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Home > Business > The Plaza Theater > The Last Night - Nov 17, 1994


Photo Submitted by
Betty Lou (Stanley) Dennis

John and Mary Lowrey, the last night the Plaza was open
November 19, 1994


Photo Submitted by
Betty Lou (Stanley) Dennis



by Anna Macias


CARROLLTON - Even a short walk through the old Plaza Theater triggers memories for John Lowrey. One night in the 1950s he was alone in the box office after closing when he heard footsteps coming toward him.

"It was a hair-raising experience," Mr. Lowrey recalled with a chuckle. "It turned out to be a 9-year old boy who had fallen asleep during the movie and been left behind. I called his grandfather."

Soon such memories will be all Mr. Lowrey has left of the longtime family operation on the town square.
Next week, the same antique projector that has flickered for 45 years at the Plaza will roll for the last time. The theater has been sold and soon will be transformed into a venue for live music shows.

"My mother and I built the theater," said Mr. Lowrey, 65. Even at the age of 92, Vera Lowrey was still selling tickets at the box office on weekends. She passed away this year at 94.

Vera Lowrey opened the theater in 1938. As one of a few theaters north of Maple Avenue in Dallas, the Plaza was so successful that it expanded into a bigger facility on the square in 1949.

In recent years, Mr. Lowrey has operated the theater at 1115 Fourth St. with his wife, Mary. It is the oldest business under the same management in Carrollton.

"I've never worked anywhere else." Mr. Lowrey said. "But we've been in it long enough. It's just getting harder and harder to do."

Walking away will be difficult, too.

"Its been a good business, a fun business," Mr. Lowrey said tearfully. "If we were younger, we would stay. The place, it's just like a child. Everything here we've just grown up with."

In the old days, the Plaza was the place to be.

"When we built it, the population of Carrollton was 1,001," Mr. Lowrey said.  "We'd fill this place up. It was before television. There wasn't anything else to do. There was no Six Flags."

Mr. Lowrey is proud of the projector that has run night after night.
"We oil it everyday," Mr. Lowrey said. "It has always done the job it was suppose to do, so there was no reason to change it."

On his way downstairs from the projection room, Mr. Lowrey announced to a visitor: "There are 25 steps from the balcony to the projection room. I know this place better than anybody."

Mary Lowrey said the couple will miss the friends they've made at the theater.

"It's a peculiar business," she said. "It's like having company over every night."

The new owners plan to call the place the Carrollton Plaza Music Theatre and present a variety of shows - including jazz, blues, country, and Christian and gospel.

"We will have a family-oriented business," said Dennis Sloan, a former musician and new co-owner of the theater. "On Sundays we'll have a  songwriters' showcase, where people can showcase material to record companies."
Mr. Lowrey said teh new owners made a "handsome offer" for the theater.

"There's not a crack in the building." Mr. Lowrey said. "The same seats we started with are still there. The same candy case we built is still there. It's quite an original place."

Mr. Sloan agreed.

"We were attracted to that theater because of the nostalgia," he said. "We don't want to go in there and tear anything up. The Lowreys took very good care of it."

Outside, an original neon sigh still highlights the Plaza name.

Inside, the dormant screen is covered with red velvet curtains that match the red cloth seats. The theater's art deco light fixtures and an elegant printed carpet are reminders of days gone by.

"Some young people who come in are surprised that we have a curtain," Mrs. Lowrey said. "They've never been to a single-screen theater."

The new owners plan to host a free open house which will include Christmas music, Dec. 26 and 17. The last movie will play Monday night.

Mr. Lowrey said he expects some difficulty adjusting to retirement.

"We're going to have a to figure out what people do after dinner." he said. "We usually eat and then come to work."
But, he said, "Times change and things do too."


The Dallas Morning News - Thursday, November 17, 1994
Submitted by Lilly (Calhoun) Warren



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