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Casa Linda Theatre

2003 Photo from the Adam Martin collection
150 Casa Linda Plaza
Dallas TX 75218

Record #4738  
 Opened: 1945
 Closed: 1998
 Current Use:
Architectural Style(s):
National Register:
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As: McLendon 3
 Previously operated by: McLendon Theatres

Information for this tour was contributed by David McCurry.

The Casa Linda's construction began in 1940 but was halted due to war time shortages. The theatre was completed and opened in 1945 and opened with a single screen that sat close to 800. It did not have a balcony but rather a raised mezzanine area with a sharp slope towards the back. It was the anchor for the Casa Linda Plaza shopping center, a development at the corner of Buckner and Garland Roads. The Dallas Public Library archives have several photographs of the theatre sitting alone in a field with nothing but a parking lot. Over the following year the shopping center grew up around it. It had a an art deco decor with scalloped walls and recessed neon lighting coves. It was one of the first air conditioned theatres in Dallas and the mammoth gas powered compressors are still in place under the auditorium, although not in service. It served as the flagship for the McClendon Theatre circuit for many years.

Sometime in the late 60's or early 70's the theatre was twinned. I am not exactly sure of the timeline. It was at this time that the auditorium walls were covered with curtains. The auditorium was split at the mezzanine level with the rear of the house seating approx. 300 and the front of the house seating close to 400. A second story and projection booth were built for the new auditorium. Either at the same time or later, two rooms were added to the front of the building, with the natural stone masonry. These were used over the years as auditoriums, office space and a video arcade. In it's final configuration these were two auditoriums, #3 which sat 175 and #4 which sat 122. The front wall under the marquee was brought forward and enclosed the marble box office. A concession stand was added directly behind the box office and the former concession area was turned into a concierge closet and manager's office.

In 1986 or 1987 McClendon Theatres completely remodeled the theatre. New carpet and upholstery in all three auditoriums, new tile, new bathroom fixtures. They put up new custom wall covering and updated the lighting. They built the jukebox marquee on Garland Rd and added the stylish McClendon 3 Theatre (it was only 3 at the time, the 4th was a video arcade and was converted back to an auditorium a few years later) over the original Casa Linda neon. The neon tower was refurbished and the rotating 'disco ball' at the top was added. It had huge lights in the turrets that illuminated the rotating ball which reflected into the parking lot. The #1 auditorium received a travel curtain and a custom light show. The #2 received a custom light show as well complete with two large disco balls illuminated with soft pink lights. The sound system in all three auditoriums were modernized and the projection systems were automated.

A year or so later the McClendon's closed their theatre chain and the Casa Linda was operated by Rich Peterson until it's close in 1998. When he took over operations, Rich converted the video arcade back into an auditorium and added a solid screen and 4 channel stereo. Rich invested a great deal of energy in maintaining the theatre and competing with the arrival of the megaplex. He managed to stay on the forefront of cinema technology despite declining attendance. Casa Linda was the only independent theatre in the state to have Dolby Spectral Recording, one of the only theatres for many years to have 4-channel stereo in all auditoriums and one of the first to have digital sound with both DTS and Dolby Digital installations in the two big houses. Unfortunately Rich lost his battle to keep the theatre after the Astro Drive-In fire and the Casa Linda closed in 1998 at the grand old age of 53.

 Photos remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.

September 2003 photos from the Adam Martin collection.

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Last featured 3/8/2005. Last edited 8/26/2017.

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