THE HISTORY of the Forest Theater

If these walls could talk…

The Forest Theater, nestled in the vibrant heart of sunny South Dallas, has been a beacon of cultural unity and artistic expression for generations of Dallas residents. Constructed in 1949 by Karl Hoblitzelle, the visionary behind iconic venues like the Majestic and Lakewood Theaters, it boasted cutting-edge amenities and seating capacity for nearly 1,400 guests, making it a premier destination for moviegoers. Yet, as the landscape of the surrounding community shifted in the early 1950s due to the construction of US 175, the theater’s identity evolved. Responding to demographic changes, it became a vital hub for African American audiences, hosting unforgettable performances by legends like Tina Turner, Prince, and B.B. King.

The Forest Theater served more than just an entertainment venue; it was a gathering place for local organizations and a cornerstone for community activism.Despite periods of closure and varied uses over the years, the Forest Theater’s spirit endured. In 2017, a philanthropic couple with a deep commitment to arts equity and education gifted the theater to Forest Forward, a local nonprofit dedicated to its revival. Now, as Forest Forward embarks on a transformative journey of historic rehabilitation and expansive renovation, the theater’s past story will serve as both a foundation and an inspiration for its future.