SMU Puts Some "Theatrical Treasures" Online

Southern Methodist University
The Capitol opened in 1922 at 1521 Elm Street; the Rialto, in '35 after having been known as the Old Mill Theatre since its 1913 debut.
The McCord Theatre Museum on the SMU campus closed some 20 years back; says here that since then, the thousands of odds and sods collected by its curator, Edyth Renshaw, have been in cold storage. Five years ago, though, theater student Emily Grubbs decided to sift through the stuff -- and the result is an exhibit that opened Friday at the Mildred Hawn Gallery in SMU's Owen Arts Center: Hidden Treasures of the Mary McCord/Edyth Renshaw Collection on the Performing Arts.

Mary McCord, incidentally, was the university's first speech professor -- also, the first to direct student-starring productions on campus, says the university, beginning with As You Like It in 1916, which led to the formation of the theater group known as The Arden Club, run by McCord and then Renshaw. Among its members, over the years, were teevee-show creator Aaron Spelling and John Tower, well before he was a U.S. senator.

Photos of both men as Lil' Mustangs can be seen in a slide show SMU's made available that dates back to that 1916 production and includes shots of the Cycle Park Theatre at Fair Park (home to vaudeville productions) and other theater- and film-related odds and ends.

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Were these theaters somewhere between Elm Place and 1600 Pacific today? That is the view from my window at the Kirby and I can't imagine how amazing the street would look with all those lights and people.


The vast majority of these theaters were located on Elm near where the Majestic is today. Roughly in between Pearl and Ervay.

More photographs of historic Dallas theaters are available to see at the exhibit!


Thanks! I have seen postcards of Theater Row that depict the Tower Petroleum Building pretty far in the distance, so maybe where Thanksgiving Tower or 1700 Pacific are today? I would love to see a Google Map of downtown in the 1920s-40s.


I wrote "Street of Dreams, A History of Dallas' Theatre Row" in 2003. It is out of print however the photos in it are really good. Also it shows exactly where each theatre was downtown all along Elm Street from the 1200 block all the way to Deep Ellum as well as the theatre organs that were in many of them. I present a talk on it with wonderful pictures and many memories since I have lived in Dallas since 1948.My website is,Jeanette Crumpler

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