In 1920, there were ten theaters in Ranger, TX. Today only one of
these theaters (Columbia when shut down) remains standing.
The Arcadia was built in 1927 and known as the most beautiful theater
between Fort Worth and Abilene. It was located on Main Street next to
the old city hall. A small soda fountain and refreshment stand was
adjacent. The glistening fresh popcorn popper kept the inviting aroma
in the ornate lobby and no one could resist a bag. Frequently, the
theater had "amateur nights" with live local entertainment and prizes
and there were the "china" nights when china was given away. Ranger
High School "scavengers" used to check the trash bin in the alley
behind the theater for discarded film from breaks on a reel which
made wonderful smoke/stink bombs. At one time there was a bowling
alley on the east side of the theater.
The Arcadia showed the latest movies and was richly furnished. The well
known owner/manager of the Arcadia for many years was Brann Garner
pictured below on the left), known as the "picture show man". His wife
Burla Jane assisted in the operation. The theater caught fire and burned
down in March, 1952. Later the remaining structure was torn down and
made into a parking lot. The Tower and Arcadia were the last two movie
theaters in downtown Ranger. The picture above on the far right is of
Gloria Graham, Betty Reuwer and Wanda McKinney (RHS Class of 1949)
purchasing tickets from Burla Jane Garner for a Saturday matinee in
Brann Garner Inside of Arcadia
(owner & manager)
The Garner's only child, daughter Gail, is married to David Pickrell
and they live in Ranger. Burla Jane died in 1986. Her sister was
Cora Marie Kohn (RHS Class of 1925).
Photo of Arcadia in 1939 showing "Union Pacific".
The only theater that is still standing is the Columbia which is
located in downtown Ranger on Austin Street across the street from
the old Anderson Chevrolet Co. The Columbia is remembered by most
as the "Shoot-um-up"! It was built as the Lone Star theater and
later became the Columbia.
Remains of the Columbia Theater
EASTSIDE - was located on Strawn Road.
ELITE - location unknown.
Hippadrome was located in the 300 block
of W. Main which is now the David Rogers'
Ranger Auto Parts Store.
Lamb theater was located in the 300 block
of W. Main and was replaced by the Arcadia
The picture on the left is the first Liberty Theater which was
located in the 200 block of S. Rusk Street down by the Masonic
Lodge. It was owned by the same person that bought the Majestic
and renamed it the Liberty. Later the National Guard used the
When the Liberty Theater was opened in 1919 or 1920 it was an
entertainment facility that ANY CITY could brag about to induce
visitors to come to the city. It had a large floor seating capacity,
a balcony and several loge stalls for high priced seats. In 1927
with several other boys looking for bits of film clips cut in film
splicing, I noticed a huge mass of discarded tickets. They had a
price range of $15.00 down. At a time when good wages in Ranger
was bringing in sixty cents an hour, this was "silk stocking row."
The Liberty may have been intended to be an OPERA HOUSE.
In 1927, as a 10 year old boy, I along with 200 to 400 boys ages
9, 10, 11 and 12 attended the Saturday afternoon ten cent matinee
of one hour silent western movies. These featured Tom Tyler, Ken
Maynard, Harry Careyry, Hoot Gibson, Jack Hoxie and all the others
"They went that way gang" except Tom Mix. Tom Mix showed at the
Lamb Theater for twenty five cents.
In 1928 "Talking Movies" came to Ranger. The old Lamb Theater was
razed and replaced with the Arcadia Theater. It had 700 padded
seats, air conditioning and "Talking Pictures." There was no way
the Liberty Theater could compete with silent pictures, hard seats
and no air conditioning. Not long after opening of the Arcadia
Theater, the Liberty terminated their theater activities.
I remember a few vaudeville acts. The stage lighting was all that
could be asked for. The acoustics were superb. When dialogue and
musical acts were performed you could hear clearly every sound
without any amplifiers. I regret that I never saw a presentation
of "Raymon Teal and His Ducklings."
I do remember that above the theater, the Liberty Hotel with its
100 rooms stayed in business for several years, but died because
it had no elevator. Three floors of stairs are not inviting to a
tired traveler, especially when he has no place to park his auto-
mobile. (Based on article by Warren Reynolds Cozby-RHS1934)
Remains of Liberty Hotel & Theater
Lone Star Theater was located in the 100 block of
S. Austin and later became the Columbia Theater.
MAJESTIC - was located in the 100 block of S. Rusk Street and later
became the Liberty Theater. There was another Majestic theater prior
to this one which burned during the great fire of April 6, 1919.
Opera House theater was located
in the 300 block of Pine Street
(north side between Austin & Marston).
Queen theater was located in the
200 block of Pine Street. The building
burned in the great fire in 1920.
The only drive-in theater in Ranger was the Ranger Drive-In. It
was built in the early 1950s by Herbert Rapp who carved it out
of the side of Ranger Hill east of Ranger. His wife, Alice, helped
with the operation of the business. After Herbert retired in 1978,
the drive-in was sold and operated until around 1986 when it closed.
Remains of Ranger Drive-In Noel Judy & Mac Jacoby
Snack Bar Projection Room
Herbert's pickup-Pecos(sitting) & Jack Noth (R)
Rex Theatre opened Nov. 24, 1922 in Ranger featuring Douglas Fairbanks
in "When The Clouds Roll By". The Ranger Band played in front of the
theatre. The manager, J.M. Palmer, had opened the Liberty in 1918 which
was later sold to his brother. Location of the theatre is unknown.
Temple Theater was located in the
100 block of S. Austin and later
became the Tower Theater.
Texas Theater was located in the 300 block of Walnut Street.
Herbert Rapp built and operated the Tower Theater which was located
in downtown Ranger on Austin Street next to the once Anderson Chevrolet
Co. It was part of the Southland Hotel. When Herbert was young, he had
worked for Brann Garner at the Arcadia Theater. Later he began to drive
from town to town with a projector in the back of his car showing movies
in Santo, Gordon, Strawn and Mingus. He finally settled in Strawn and
started the Strand Theater. After the WWII, he came back to Ranger and
opened the Tower Theater. He did everything in the planning and building
of the Tower. Herbert even painted the two huge murals on each side of
the theater. One was Neptune riding sea horses and the other was Lady
Godiva on her famous horse. He had two water coolers installed and red
velvet curtains. The seats came from some high school auditorium but were
replaced later with cushioned seats. His wife, Alice, sold tickets and
Herbert ran the projectors. He had Bingo and kiddie matinees on Saturdays.
Later in the early 1950s he expanded by opening the Ranger Drive-In. (Gail
Murals on each side of the Tower - painted by Herbert Rapp
Billy Harper in space suit for "Destination Moon"
"Money Tree"-James Faulk & Jimmy Arrendale Herbert Rapp
Remains of Tower Theater
Pictures & information by Jeane Pruett (Ranger Historical Society), Jack
Waddington, Gail Rapp Hagar, W. T. Eaton, Alfred Rogers, & Mac Jacoby
Old Texas Theaters