Joy Theater

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The Joy Theater opened in 1947 on Canal Street, in downtown New Orleans, shortly after the end of World War II. It was the first movie theater in twenty years to be built on Canal Street–a street that was once known as the spot for the greatest theaters in the New Orleans area. It sat on the uptown corner of Canal and Elk Place, just a block away from the Loew’s State Theatre. The Joy Theater was built by Joy Houck and Levere Montgomery, and was operated by the the owners for approximately thirty years.

Architecture

The theater was designed by architect B.W. Stevens in an ultra-modern style. It seated 1,250 patrons and held three movie screens and a “crying room.” Universal Pictures was the Joy’s main enterprise. At that time, it was one of the minor production companies, in great contrast to its reputation today. [1]

Segregation

As with all other New Orleans theaters of this time period, segregation laws were strictly obeyed, in order to avoid fines or even more serious legal consequences. African-American patrons were required to sit on the balcony of the Joy Theater. Some theaters in New Orleans did not admit blacks at all. [2]

The Demise

After nearly three decades of great success, business began to drop. As Universal Pictures headed into the major leagues of movie production, multiple runs of the company’s films hurt the small local theater’s business. Due to this pressure from larger, suburban theaters, current owner Levere Montgomery decided to go ahead and close down the theater in the summer of 1978. [3]

Long-time theater operator Carver Brunet leased the Joy from its owners and brought it back into business by December of 1978. Although Brunet did not have a long term lease of the Joy Theater, he continued to operate it after the lease. Many years of enjoyment continued at the Joy Theater. However, business kept declining for a number of reasons. Brunet felt that the losses were too great, and therefore made the decision to close the theater for good on January 7th, 2003. [4]

The Joy Theater is a Canal Street landmark. It was open for 55 years, and is an important part of New Orleans movie theater history. During the second half of the 20th century when the theater was in operation, many political, social, and economic changes occurred. These shaped the Joy Theater into what it was before it shut its doors in 2003. [5]

Works Cited

  • Cinema Treasures
  • D’Entremont, D., No More Joy-The Rise and Fall of New Orleans Movie Theaters, 2005 Rock Productions
  • NAI/Latter & Blum, Inc. Realtors
  • D’Entremont, D., No More Joy-The Rise and Fall of New Orleans Movie Theaters, 2005 Rock Productions
  • D’Entremont, D., No More Joy-The Rise and Fall of New Orleans Movie Theaters, 2005 Rock Productions

This page was last modified on 27 April 2012, at 11:15

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Joy Theater

1200 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA