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Photography as Architectural Preservation: The Old Almeda Theatre in Houston

Photography as Architectural Preservation: The Old Almeda Theatre in Houston

Is this the only color photograph of a theatre demolished years ago?

I recently published a YouTube video lamenting a fire that destroyed a building I had photographed last year in Meridian, Mississippi. In that video (which you can watch below) I talked about how I view my architectural photographs of old buildings as a form of architectural preservation, and I showed examples of several buildings I’ve shot that no longer exist.

One building not discussed in the video is the Almeda Theatre of Houston, Texas. The fact that I shot this in the early 80s — when I was just 19 or 20 years old — proves that I’ve always had an interest in photographing abandoned buildings!

The Old Almeda Theatre in Houston

Vintage color photograph of East Houston's Almeda Theatre, now lost. Shot in the early 1980s, this may be the only surviving color image of the theatre.
Vintage color photograph of East Houston’s Almeda Theatre, now lost. Shot in the early 1980s, this may be the only surviving color image of the theatre.

I shot this color photograph of the old Almeda Theatre in 1983, while I was an art student living in Houston. It was located at 5614 Almeda Boulevard in Houston, and was already abandoned by the time I discovered it. It had a really great art deco style sign, and the melon and teal colors had circled back to popularity in the 1980s.

Google searches have turned up very few photographs of this now-demolished movie theatre. Cinema Treasures includes a few monochrome shots of the interior and exterior, circa 1940, not long after the theatre opened. One commenter on Cinema Treasures said that the Almeda had become a Fred Astaire Dance Studio by the mid-1950s. If that’s accurate, the building served a very short lifespan as a movie house. It has occurred to me that mine may be the only surviving color image of the of the Almeda Theatre. Unfortunately, my photograph only shows a section of the art deco sign, as seen from the sidewalk below.

Houston has a handful of well-known historic (yet also endangered) movie theaters, including the River Oaks (where I saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time in the early ’80s) and the Alabama. The Almeda wasn’t one of these revered landmarks. I’m not sure anyone mourned its passing from the city.

Look how the film handled that harsh midday sun

As an aside, be sure to notice how well the the color film managed the harsh Texas midday sun. The shadows are open and accessible. The glaring sun on the sign is intense but doesn’t blow out the shot. The color is rich. I scanned this negative years ago and I can’t remember what film it was — most likely a consumer grade negative film by Kodak — maybe Kodacolor 100 or 400.

Video: Photography as a Form of Architectural Preservation

My book about abandoned places

If you’re fascinated by abandoned places, you may enjoy my book Unloved and Forgotten: Fine Art Photographs of Abandoned Places

It was the result of ten years of road trips and exploration. It’s available on Amazon or on my website here.

If you’re fascinated by abandoned places, you may enjoy my book Unloved and Forgotten: Fine Art Photographs of Abandoned Places
My book about abandoned places is available in print or as a digital edition.

Thanks for reading.

Be sure to visit me on FacebookInstagram or Pinterest, or on my website at keithdotson.com.

~ Keith

1 comment

  1. Great image and I love the color palette on the old film. You should start calling yourself the “preservationist”! Seriously, it’s great that people such as yourself memorialize our rapidly fading history.

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