The Loop Theatre

Take a peek into this 1958 scene of The Loop Theatre which was once a favorite for moviegoers in Mobile.

Vintage photograph of the old Loop Theatre in Mobile, AL courtsey of  Julius E. Marx Collection, The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of South Alabama
Photo courtesy Julius E. Marx Collection, The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of South Alabama

In 1941, The Loop theatre opened on 2050 Government Street. Designed by architect J.T. Knight Jr. and operated by Paramount-Richards, the theatre cost $76,708 to construct at the time. The theatre (pictured below in 1958) was a one-story building designed in a streamline moderne style, a popular architectural look for commercial establishments in the 40s. It sported a distinctive pink exterior with a single screen inside. Young couples sometimes claimed sections — typically the right section in the front of the theatre — for themselves and ushers paced the aisles to ensure patrons behaved. The theatre eventually closed in the mid-70s, and the building has since been demolished. A Walgreens now operates at the location.

Movie theaters began to gain popularity in the 1920s. In the middle of that decade, about 50 million went to see a movie a week, about half the nation’s population.

The appeal of the theater wasn’t just driven by film. Movie theaters were one of the first to install air conditioning, which was a particularly big draw in the summer in Mobile.

The number of weekly moviegoers peaked in the 1940s, reaching 90 million nationwide. By the 1970s, that number had decreased to just 18 million.

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By the Numbers

$1.5 Million: The approximate amount it would cost to construct the Loop Theatre today. 

39: The number of theaters in Mobile throughout the years. Of this number, 34 have closed and 18 have been demolished.

$1: In the 50s, for this amount, a child could get into the Saturday matinee and buy a fountain drink and a box of popcorn.

928: The seating capacity of the Loop Theatre. The smallest one-screen movie theater in town at the time seated about 500.

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