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The Alamo: 1937

The Alamo: 1937

December 1937. The Alamo movie theater in Washington, D.C. View full size. 35mm nitrate negative by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration.


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Parked Cars

None of these cars is a Studebaker. Although the body style resembles a 1936 (not 1935) Studebaker President, to some degree, the '36 Stude' has only one piece of side trim, does not have chrome headlight buckets, and it has a different radiator mascot.

The car on the left looks like a 1935 - 1936 Dodge, but the gas filler is in a different location than I see in other pictures (on the fender instead of on the trunk).

The car in the center is a 1936 Chevrolet.

The way the car is parked it almost looks like one of the "Outer Gate" movie poster characters behind the car is actually in the back seat.

The car on the right is a 1935 Ford.

Alamo Redux

OK, I'm convinced that the early quoted Washington Post article referencing 1223 Seventh was a typo and the true address is 1203.

Building Permits

Charles J. Bedell, owner, to remodel theater, 1203 Seventh street northwest, $200

Washington Post, Jan 18, 1914

Fire Record.

12:22 p.m. - 1203 Seventh Street northwest, film in booth.

Washington Post, Dec 23, 1939

A Listing of Washington Movie Theaters - 1984.

Alamo, 1203 7th St. NW

Washington Post, Nov 15, 1984

Another Photo of the Alamo Showing the Corner


Dave's comments appear to be correct. There is a second photo on the website that shows the Alamo second from the corner, but with a shorter building on the corner next to it. See
So I think we are converging on the address being 1203 7th St. NW. I believe too that the address given on the site (1293) was probably a typo, and was meant as 1203.

I appreciate everyone's help in clearing up this asterisk in cinema history. I've posted a summary of the discussion on my blog at


Following up on the address...

Following up on Colleen's comment, I looked a little more into the address of the Alamo Theatre. Found this interesting website and picture:

Descriptive text lists the photo as...

"Commercial buildings on the east side of the 1200 block of 7th Street NW. View to north. Including the Alamo Theatre."

As the Alamo is the second building from the near end (and the numbers ascend to the North), 1203 seems reasonable. It also looks like the MidCity Theatre is visible part way down the block (counting by twos) it would be 1223 7th ...

Dave gives me Goosebumps

Oh, how I flush! It causes a shiver up my spine and goosebumps on my flesh to witness how Dave stands up for my honor (or at least the honor of my research). Forensic genealogy is a curious new website to me and I am intrigued by their postings. While the researchers at this website do highlight some contradictory information available on the web, it does appear, as Dave documents, that the Alamo was indeed located at 1223 Seventh street N.W.

Following up on one of the comments from the aforementioned website, the New Yorker magazine featured a brief humorous observation regarding the Alamo in the Talk of the Town section on Oct 17, 1959.

Research on the Alamo and the Mid City Theaters

This photograph prompted us to do further research on the Alamo Theater by featuring it in our weekly photo quiz on for the week of Nov 16, 2008.

Our readers' outstanding research uncovered contradictory information about the address and history of this theater. While the comment above indicates that the address was 1223 7th St, Washington DC, we also found two other addresses: 1293 7th Ave on (with the Mid City located at the 1223 address), and 1223 on 9th Ave on the Shaw District site at (The latter might be a misprint.)

Whichever is correct, the Alamo and The Mid City were two separate theatres, not the same theatre with different names at different times.

I've posted the results of our research on the Alamo at

Colleen Fitzpatrick

[1223 Seventh Street would seem to be correct. Washington doesn't have numbered avenues -- there is no Seventh or Ninth avenue. And there is reason to believe there was a Mid-City Theatre at the same address. See the Washington Post clippings below. - Dave]

The way we were

The Alamo became the Mid City Theatre before falling to the wrecking ball.


When I saw this car I felt a little tug because it reminded me so much of my folks' first car, a 1935 Studebaker. Am I correct?

Remembering the Alamo

The Alamo Theater was renamed before it was demolished. Do you know what was the name of the theater that was here when the building was demolished?
Thank you for your attention to this query. REM

Alamo Theater

The Alamo was located at 1223 Seventh street N.W.

Parallel Parking

In the days before power steering, that was real good parallel parking by drivers of cars in front of theater. Spacing even good.

That is, if they didn't pull to curb one after another!

Re: Rent

I don't know about the rent, but if you had all those posters today in that condition, you would be able to put a nice down payment on a house.

The movies

"Law of the Ranger" was one of a series of low budget "B" pictures done for Columbia, starring Robert Allen as "Bob Allen." Allen, who was a Dartmouth graduate, basically had his movie career ended with the arrival of singing cowboys like Gene Autry. He basically stopped working in film by 1940 and acted on Broadway. He made his last movie - the totally awful "Raiders of the Living Dead" in 1986 at age 80. He died in 1998 at age 92.

While "The Outer Gate" is an entirely forgettable second feature crime movie with a paper thin plot, the three main actors are an interesting group. Ralph Morgan, who is first billed, was the first president of the Screen Actors Guild, as well as the brother of Frank Morgan, who played the Wizard in "The Wizard of Oz." Ben Alexander, in the lead role, spent much of the 1950s as Joe Friday's partner in the TV series "Dragnet." Kay Linaker, who was the female lead in this movie was born in 1913, and is not only still alive but was at one time the oldest College instructor in New England (at Keene State College in New Hampshire).

"Shadow of Chinatown" was a 15 chapter serial starring Bela Lugosi acting in "yellow face" which was indicative of how far his career had fallen by this time. It also starred Herman Brix, the 1928 Olympic Silver medalist in the Shot Put, who had just finished playing Tarzan in a serial. Brix would later change his name to Bruce Bennett and became a major star at Warner Brothers. He died in February, 2007 at age 100 of "complications from a broken hip."

For Rent

I wonder how much that room was for rent.

[That might be office space. - Dave]

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