“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Rockdale in Milam County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)

The Kay Theater

The Kay Theater Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jim Evans, June 8, 2014
1. The Kay Theater Marker
Inscription.  In 1947, E.L. Bryan and the Foy Arrington family bought a surplus quonset hut, one of the thousands of the all-purpose metal buildings made during World War II. The hut was moved to Rockdale to become the core of the second movie theater in town. Local carpenter Jack Kyle, Sr. directed several Rockdale high school students to build the sloping concrete floor and facade for the streamline moderne-style theater, named for the Arringtons' daughter, Katherine. A half-cylinder of corrugated steel sheets forms the walls and roof. The entry includes a stepped plaster wall outlined in neon, an entry drum of plaster and glass blocks, paired double doors, a central sign and large letters spelling K-A-Y on each side of the rotunda.

The owners, Mr. and Mrs. Foy Arrington, said the quonset hut architecture "Lends itself naturally to excellent acoustics and a pleasing interior appearance." Construction of the Kay Theater was completed in time for a Thanksgiving 1947 opening. At a dedication ceremony the next night, postmaster Clyde Franklin was master of ceremonies and Mayor J.B. Newton introduced "Rolling Home," starring Russell Hayden, Jean Parker
The Kay Theater image. Click for full size.
By Jim Evans, June 8, 2014
2. The Kay Theater
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and Raymond Hatton. Large box fans made the theater one of the few air conditioned locations in town. Mr. Arrington manned the ticket booth and was the projectionist, and his wife managed the concessions. As with similar facilities at the time, African American patrons walked upstairs to separate balcony seating. The Kay Theater closed in 1962 and was vacant for many years before restoration began in 2004 through the Kay Theater Foundation. Today, the last remaining theater in Milam County recalls a time when going to the movies was a cultural event and central to the social life of many young people.

Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 2013

Erected 2013 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 17630.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Notable Buildings. A significant historical year for this entry is 1947.
Location. 30° 39.428′ N, 97° 0.129′ W. Marker is in Rockdale, Texas, in Milam County. Marker is at the intersection of North Main Street (County Route 908) and East Davilla Avenue, on the right when traveling north on North Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Rockdale TX 76567, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Matinee Musical Club (about 800 feet away, measured in a direct line); International & Great Northern Railroad Passenger Depot
The Kay Theater image. Click for full size.
By Jim Evans, June 8, 2014
3. The Kay Theater
(approx. 0.2 miles away); Railroads in Rockdale (approx. 0.2 miles away); Jewish Cemetery (approx. 0.4 miles away); La Recluta and La Escuelita (approx. 2.1 miles away); Mount Zion Baptist Church (approx. 5 miles away); Site of the Mission San Ildefonso (approx. 5.7 miles away); Site of Mission San Francisco Xavier de Los Dolores (approx. 7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Rockdale.
The Kay Theater Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jim Evans, June 8, 2014
4. The Kay Theater Marker
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on June 14, 2014, by Jim Evans of Houston, Texas. This page has been viewed 440 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on June 14, 2014, by Jim Evans of Houston, Texas. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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May. 10, 2021