Washington Square Cinema, opened in the 1980s, is an important part of Bastrop's history for many, and now it is being demolished to make room for a new business, but for many, the fond memories will live on.
The building of Washington Square Cinema was announced on March 15, 1984. It was a project of Gulf State Theaters, and one of its employees, Gary Solomon, was in Bastrop to help run the project. Bill Murphy was the architect who brought the project to life.
“We're talking about a 'state of the art' movie theatre, and we will run day and night with Monroe,” explained Solomon in an Enterprise article.
The theatre had four screens with a capacity for 850 people. A game area was also included off the main lobby and held 15 arcade style games.
The grand opening was held on June 22, 1984, and movies screened that night included “Gremlins”, Star Trek 3”, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, and “Rhinestone.” Mayor John Bond was there along with other city officials, and the snack bar was stocked with popcorn, hot dogs, cold drinks, and candy. The manager at the time was Scot Burcham
Throughout the years the movie theater became a popular place in Bastrop. Many locals went there to enjoy their favorite movies and play arcade games. Guests could also rent it for birthdays, and church groups rented it for viewings as well.
John Stout, a former manager, noted that the theater was like a second home to him. The employees were like a little family. He cooked for them and took several of them fishing or hunting. He mentioned they still hang out sometimes. They did a lot of enjoyable things on the job and he remembers those days fondly.
Anytime we had a big event movie like “Harry Potter” or “Star Trek” we would dress up in character,” he said.
Employees and customers alike were greatly valued by him and people remember his kindness.
“John loved the people that worked for him,” noted former security detail Gary Guice. “He let the kids from the Baptist Children's Home watch movies for free as a kind of ministry for them.”
Stout started a thread on Facebook recently encouraging former employees and locals to share their memories. Many people commented discussing the films they saw and the times they shared. Numerous employees commented on the fun they had while working there.
“We used to ride the curtain to the top in Theater 3” said one former employee. “It was fun until someone got the bright idea to jump on with me and the left side pulled out from the ceiling, the whole curtain came down and the pipe holding the curtain broke in half.”
Its interesting to think of how many parties, nights out with friends, dates, and more must have taken place there. It's a theater that many locals remember fondly.
“One of my all time favorite movie going experiences, maybe even my favorite ever, was watching Mortal Kombat there in 1995,” a local commented in Stouts thread. “There were about 15 of us, we were all like 14, 15, 16 years old, and we cut up and did bad karate moves and had the best time of our lives.”
Guice remembers spending a lot of time there as a young man and the fun he had.
“I knew the managers, and we watched so many movies after hours,” he said. “I remember when “The Lion King” premiered I had a lot of free time on my hands and I saw it 27 times.”
To many it was much more than just a theater.
“It wasn't just about movies,” explained Guice. “It was about friendships, togetherness, and the magic of cinema.”
The theater, having been closed for a time already, is being demolished to make room for a new business. The space will be used for a new office for Morehouse Community Medical Centers. The theater, however, will never be forgotten.
The good times had there by visitors and employees alike will always be remembered even as the last of the building is turned into rubble.