For residents of the small towns neighboring Houston, watching
a movie meant either driving into the city, or attending
their local theatre. Many of the smaller towns had a movie
house nearby, often located in the downtown district. This
was the case with the first theatres constructed in Alvin.
Its first movie house, the Star Theatre, operated during
the teens, as did the U.D.C. Hall. In 1919, the Grand Theatre
was opened, then changed hands on several occasions, finally
coming under the control of the man who was to have a major
impact on the theatre industry in the region Johnny
J.G. Longs purchase of the Grand was the beginning
of a theatre chain that encompassed such points as Bay City,
Port Lavaca, El Campo, and Beaumont. The Long Theatre Company
was an independent chain and booked second-run films, usually
after their initial showings in the Houston movie palaces.
The Grand continued operations for the next fifteen years.
The Alvin Theatre
Photo courtesy Parker Riggs
Long's Alvin Theatre
On February 23, 1936, the new Alvin Theatre opened its doors
to the public, quickly filling the auditorium to capacity
and spilling out to the lobby. For Alvinites, Longs
Theatre was a center of activity, back in much simpler times.
People would go downtown on Friday and Saturday
nights for a movie, or just sit in their cars and watch
the crowds go by. That was Saturday night entertainment.
Aside from a steady stream of motion pictures, live appearances
were also a common occurrence, with such luminaries as Tex
Ritter and his Musical Tornadoes, Ramblin Tommy Scott,
and Luke McLuke.
By the sixties, the Alvin Theatre was a pale ghost of the
past. The theatre closed down in the sixties, and excepting
its brief stint as a revival house, sat dormant, neglected,
and forgotten. It was razed in 1996, as part of a downtown
The Towne Plaza
Theatre in 1974.
Photo courtesy Ray Boriski
Towne Plaza Theatre
In May, 1968, the owners of the Towne Plaza Shopping area
announced their plans for expansion of the outdoor strip
center. The prime focus of the $250,000 construction was
a new cinema, filling the void that the old Alvin theatre
left. The new Towne Plaza Theatre opened on Thursday, February
27, 1969, with its premiere feature: The Beatles in Yellow
The single-screen theatre was eventually twinned. Later,
adjoining space was converted into additional auditoriums. The space underwent a renovation in 2013, the main auditorium restored to its original size, and reopened as the Welborne Cinema.
The Alvin Drive-ins
The first Alvin drive-in was located at the corner of South
Gordon and South street. The tower remained intect for years
after the theatre closed. In the seventies, the Cinema Park
Drive-in was opened, located outside Highway 35 on Highway
The remnants of
the Cinema Park Drive-in in 1987. Photo courtesy