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Poplar Theater

8118 Willow St
New Orleans LA

Demolished 1969
Record #13057  
 Opened: April 8, 1917
 Closed: September 4, 1967
 Demolished: 1969
Capacity: 840 seats
Architectural Style(s):
National Register:
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As:

Information for this tour was contributed by Michael J Rouillier.

Located between Carrollton Avenue and Dublin Street, the Poplar Theater was one of the most popular nabes in the New Orleans area. Named after Poplar Street, which was later renamed Willow, this theater stayed in constant operation from at least the early 1930s to the late 1960s.

This quaint single screen theater was remodeled, but kept its original arc lamp projectors, Jensen sound system, and gas powered emergency lighting system. A chest-high wall separated the auditorium from the lobby and concession area. Near the candy counter was a water fountain and neon illuminated circular mirror. On the wall by the ticket taker, was a vintage telephone connected to the projection booth. The booth was accessed via a small lobby door that gave access to a staircase. No balcony was ever part of the floor plan to my knowledge.

Part of a local theater chain, The Poplar lasted well into the late 1960s when James A. Noe purchased the property. Noe sold the theater to Whitney Bank, which needed the space for a parking lot driveway. Part of the Jensen sound system was "appropriated" by a local rock band during the course of demolition. (This theater had not been "cannibalized" for parts prior to the arrival of the wrecking crew. The sound system, seats, projectors and popcorn machine were never removed for some reason. The business was abandoned almost completely intact.)

I personally spent many happy hours at The Poplar in the late 1950s and 1960s. The place had a certain musty "vibe" about it. The smell of popcorn, damp wood and cool stale air gave the theater a certain creepy charm. The last matinee I attended, I noticed two bullet holes in the ticket booth glass. The New Orleans Police opened fire on a burglar attempting to break into the floor safe in the booth. The neighborhood had clearly changed, and so the theater business. The wrecking ball was soon to follow.

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Last featured 2002-12-27. Last edited 12/24/2012.

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