Walton history more than movies

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 26, 2003

The Walton Theater hasn’t always been home to the seniors movie series. It’s also been a church and a haven for pigeons.

According to Kitti Windham, director of the Performing Arts Center, the building housing the Walton Theater was originally built in 1928. It served as a B-movie theater while the Wilby Theater, which was located where the Selma/Dallas County Public Library now stands, served as a venue for first-run films.

While the Wilby Theater showed movies such as &uot;Gone with the Wind,&uot; the Walton Theater showcased films more suited toward children. Cowboy movies and serials such as &uot;The Green Hornet&uot; and &uot;Tarzan&uot; made several appearances. Windham said cowboy movie stars would sometimes make appearances on-stage and sign autographs.

The theater eventually shut down, though, and began its metamorphosis into the form Selmians know it by today. First it was a church before it became neglected and fell into disrepair.

Windham said that when Larry Striplin purchased the building and gave it to the city, it was home to pigeons. It was also used as a shelter by the homeless.

The building behind the theater was purchased allowing the stage to be extended and the addition of dressing rooms. Instead of being confined to only movies, it was now open for stage productions as well.

Windham is currently involved in the theater’s latest production, a Christmas pageant, which is expected to hit the stage in December.