The latest building under threat is the Lakewood Theater in East Dallas. The theater was undergoing renovation, but that work has stopped. A week ago, the theater’s old green seats with thick red padding were removed from the building and tossed in the dumpster. Speculation is the building will be torn down.
(Another clue: this is Dallas. The building’s more than 20 years old. There’s not enough parking within 10 feet of the building. General rule: tear it down.)
The Lakewood Theater was built in 1938 and is known for its frescoes and art deco architecture. Karl Hoblizelle was the original owner. He also built the Majestic in Downtown Dallas.
With multiplex theaters opening all over Dallas, the theater began showing second run films. Attendance decreased and after a showing of The Last Picture Show in 1983, the theater closed.
The next year, the theater was renovated and reopened with first-run films. In 1988, it celebrated its 50th anniversary, but by 1993, attendance dwindled and the Lakewood closed again.
In 1994, new owners leased the theater to Keith McKeague. He used the theater for innovative programming and hosted Gaybingo for years before it moved to S4. After a flood in the basement and other setbacks, the owners refused to renew his lease.
Recently Viva Dallas Burlesque has staged a monthly show at the theater with Patti le Plae Safe as emcee.
Alamo Drafthouse has wanted the theater for years.
There’s a petition to the Dallas Landmark Commission to save the Lakewood that reads:
We, the citizens of Dallas, petition the Landmark Commission to initiate landmark designation for the preservation of the Lakewood Theater, the iconic landmark of East Dallas.
It is our expectation that the theater as a whole may be appropriately preserved and utilized so that future generations may also know and experience the unique qualities that have endeared it to so many previous generations.
About 2,000 people have already signed the petition and you can sign it here.