Canton is a short hop off Interstate 20 heading home from Texas to home in Mississippi. I was already dragging and had stopped to take a little stretch and headed toward downtown. The Plaza Theater caught my eye–not particularly because it was so stunning, although I do love a marquee and ticket window of any kind–but because of the building attached to it. Turns out, trying to find out something about the building was far more time consuming than I might have anticipated, and was limited at that.
Joe Hackney, theater operator, has constructed the most attractive amusement building in the county. The architecture, the lighting effect, equipment and building arrangement has complete harmony in every detail. In addition to the theater department the structure includes three private business offices and like the theater is air conditioned and has effective lighting equipment. These offices will be occupied by Addis’ Beauty Shop, Emmett Sneed [sic] Real Estate and the Elliott and Waldron Abstract Co. (New Buildings Near Completion. June 27, 1946. Canton Herald, p. 1) Note: It was actually the Steed Real Estate Company.
Joe Hackney moved to Canton from Henderson in 1939, and purchased the old theater. In 1946, he built the Plaza Theater Building, which consisted of the theater itself, and the Art Moderne offices on the side. I was assuming that the Art Moderne structure was a separate building. Running across a comment about the Plaza Theater Building, I found the above article indicating they were done at the same time. Lo and behold, searching for images of the Plaza Theater Building, I located one that showed just the edge of the attached wing, and that it was originally white with maroon trim and maroon tile, just like the theater. A later photograph showed the Art Moderne corner ell as having damage to some of the maroon tiles, so it appears they were removed entirely from the section by the far left door next to the theater, and replaced in the other areas. The building was painted blue or gray–hard to distinguish as faded as it is, but in “person” it appeared to be a light blue. In fact, that had me searching for Greyhound Bus Stations in Canton, just in case.
Maroon tile was a fairly common feature in theaters built around that time. I recall the old Queen Theater in Abilene, Texas, where my mother worked while in college. It had an abundance of maroon tile, although it was considerably more elegant than the Plaza pictured here. It was a sad day for me (and many of us in Abilene) when they tore it down.
If there are additions or corrections to this information, I would be thrilled to hear from anyone in the know about Canton’s Plaza Theater Building, and any renovations or changes that may have been done on either of them.