This story is true.
It’s now a parking lot for the Kroger store on Beechwood, but from the 1920s to the 1950s, it was the Prospect Theater; a 600 seat movie theater that was THE place to go.
“In 1951, The Thing showed there. I was nine, and that movie scared the hell out of me. I saw it in the evening when it was dark out, when it was over I ran the entire mile to 700 N. Taylor flat out.” – Raymond Merritt
But in 1953, the theater closed and became the broadcast studio of Arkansas’ first television station, KRTV-channel 17. Later that year, it was bought by a Pine Bluff station called KATV-channel 7, which continued to operate from the building until it burned on Halloween night, 1957.
After the fire, KATV moved downtown and grew into the behemoth it is today, hence providing this gratuitous newsgirl picture:
As for the extinct Prospect Theater site, Safeway bought it for their new store. Today, it’s the Beechwood Kroger parking lot.
I had never heard of this theater until I found the old picture a week ago, then started asking questions. I didn’t suspect it would lead to Channel 7 and the Kroger parking lot. But then again, what doesn’t?
(Thanks Jim Halsell and Ramond Merritt for the leads.)