City Hall

Lakewood Theater Gets Landmark Status

On Wednesday, the Dallas City Council granted landmark status to the iconic Lakewood Theater. It wasn't exactly a fight. Everyone, from neighbors to the theater's owners to city officials, wanted the theater, its marquee and phallic purple tower to stick around, so it was a sense of relief that greeted the 15-0 vote to make it a landmark.

Just don't ever expect to see a show there.

The movement to officially preserve the Lakewood began last August when neighbors panicked at the sight of theater seats being ripped out and thrown in the dumpster. A comical scene developed as people descended on the theater to grab the seats.

Katherine Seale, the head of the Dallas Landmark Commission put the wheels of Dallas preservation in motion to save the Lakewood. “Of course, at that time, we didn’t know about how the owner felt about the building,” Seale said Wednesday. “Literally thousands of people in East Dallas came together and said 'this is what matters; this is a beacon.'”

Craig Kinney, one of the theater's co-owners, told reporters Wednesday that while he never opposed preservation for the theater, the lengthy process to landmark status cost him and his business partners hundreds of thousands of dollars because they couldn't make any changes to the structure without knowing what rules the landmark commission might set for it.

According to Kinney, the theater is unlikely to be a functioning movie house or music venue again. Instead it will likely be split up into restaurant space.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young