Did you know there is a movie theater in Fort Worth where you get to pick the movie if you show up first? Downtown Cowtown at the Isis is a Stockyards hidden gem for film buffs, music lovers, and history nerds alike. Let’s rewind the history of the theater.
The 400-seat Isis Theater opened in 1914 on the corner of 24th and North Main Streets as a one-screen silent film house. Originally designed by Louis B. Weinman, it also contained a pharmacy and 12 upstairs rooms.
In 1935, the projection room caught fire, but architect W. Scott Dunne helped rebuild and enlarge the theater to 1,000 seats. The cinema held a grand re-opening as the “new Isis Theater” in 1936 with Fort Worth-raised starlet Ginger Rogers present for the premiere of her movie “In Person.”
However, flooding in 1942 caused extensive damage to the building, which shuttered its doors in 1988.
In 2017, Dr. Jeffry Smith and Debbie Garrett-Smith purchased the dilapidated structure, undertaking a huge interior and exterior restoration. The curtain rose again in the summer of 2021 on the downsized one-stage theater, which is now closer to its original capacity with 500 seats. The new owners also added a 1920s cocktail lounge and rentable event space.
The original 1936 sign still hangs on the front of the building, but isn’t lit. Building owners are taking donations to relight the marquee.
Today, the cinema hosts live acts and screens classic films Tuesday-Sunday at 11:15 a.m., 2 p.m., 5 p.m., and 8 p.m. If you are the first person there, you get to pick the movie from a rotating list. The tickets are free with the purchase of a drink and a snack — $10 for a night out, can you imagine?
Mark your calendars for these upcoming events:
- Candlelight Concert: A Haunted Evening of Halloween Classics | Wednesday, Oct. 18
- Broadway Howl-oween Revue | Friday, Oct. 20 + Saturday, Oct. 21
- Will Baffle’s Show of Wonders | Sunday, Nov. 28
- Candlelight Concert: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons | Wednesday, Dec. 13.