Texas' Historic Theaters
Updated: 2 days ago
Throughout the state, historic theaters have served as brightly lit beacons and communal hubs. Today, may of these theaters are again in operation, serving as a proud reminder of the never-say-die Texan spirit upon which these small towns were built many decades ago.
Built in 1939, the Queen Theatre stands today as a symbol of both Bryan's mid-20th century economic prosperity, as well as the tireless efforts to restore the downtown area in the early 21st century. After four decades of operation, as downtown Bryan fell into decline, the Queen would be forced to shut its doors. In 2010, the theater was purchased by the Downtown Bryan Association to begin a giant, three-phase restoration effort. Though the Queen's restored neon crown again lights the night, the project is not to be complete until March 2018.
Midland's historic Yucca Theatre was inspired in 1927 by the historic discover of King Tut's tomb just five years prior. Though it no longer shows movies, today the Yucca serves as the proud host of the Midland Theater Company's notorious "Summer Mummers" stage production- a 68 year-old tradition known for its high-energy performances and extreme levels of audience participation.
The roots of Alpine's famous theater can be traced back to 1928. Not only did this center serve as a premier movie house, it was also host to several high-profile events, including the star-studded 1943 World War II bond drive featuring Gene Autry and Gale Storm. Today, the Granada functions as a live performance and event center, continuing to serve as a bustling hub of community activities for Alpine residents and visitors alike.
In May 2017, the historic Lan-Tex celebrated its 90th year serving Llano moviegoers. Affectionately referred to as the "living room" of Llano, the Lan-Tex has always provided both a strong sense of community to the locals and a memorable first impression for tourists passing through.
One of the most iconic buildings in downtown Brenham, the Simon Theatre has served as the go-to spot for generations of Brenham residence seeking quality entertainment. Commissioned in 1925, this theater was designed in a sophisticated Beaux Arts Classical Revival style that amazed patrons who came far and wide to attend movies, ballroom dances, vaudeville acts, and more. The theater eventually fell on hard times, changing owners multiple times in the 20th century until finally being bought by the Brenham Main Street Historical Preservation in 2003. After years of work and millions of dollars raised, the theater now honors its legacy as a historic entertainment hub, hosting a variety of movies, concerts, and private events.
For over a century, the ClifTex Theatre has been showcasing Hollywood's latest blockbusters for more than four generations of Clifton residents. Dubbed "The Queen" when it first opened its doors in 1916, the theater would soon be renamed "ClifTex Talkies" before finally settling on, simply, the "ClifTex Theatre." ClifTex is unique from other historical theaters in that it's never closed down for an extended period of time!
Located deep in the heart of downtown Lufkin, the Pines Theatre stands today as one of the city's proudest historical attractions. Many of Lufkin's older residents still fondly remember the days spent making friends at the Pine's weekly "kiddie show"- back when a day at the movies cost just the price of a quarter. Though this location no longer shows silent films, the Pines now serves as a multipurpose venue, hosting a variety of events including country music shows, weddings, and private functions.
The Cinema's distinctive brick frame was constructed on main street in Spearman in 1948. At the time, the newly constructed theater boasted such amenities as a modern ladies' room, as well as a room for mothers to care for children. Today, the Lyric Cinema continues its tradition of serving Spearman's moviegoing public, offering the latest Hollywood hits for just $7.50 (a bargain these days)!
Abilene's Paramount Theatre is, perhaps, the strongest, most overlooked symbol of the unique, can-do spirit found exclusively in small town Texas. Built in 1930, it would serve as Abilene's premier movie house, seperating itself from the competition by way of its elegant Spanish-Moorish architecture. Like many single-screen theaters of its kind, the Paramount soon became antiquated, eventually closing its doors in the '70s. Thanks to a group of local Abilene movie buffs who used the out-of-commission location to host classic movie nights, the theater was recognized once again and restored to its 1930s glory. The paramount now serves as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit performing arts venue.
Not unlike more than 25 other Rialtos across South Texas, the Three Rivers Rialto Theatre closed in 1981 after serving as a community focal point for decades. Built in 1948, this theater has a storied past, opening and closing multiple times despite the residents' efforts to keep it open. In December 2009 it finally opened its doors for good. The Texas Historical Commission designated the Rialto a Recorded Texas Historical Landmarkin 2016, and the Live Oak Historical Commission dedicated a Texas State Historical Marker in 2017. The lobby even contains the original 1948 projector.
Do you have a cherished historic theater in your hometown? Tell us about it in the comments!
Read more about these historical theaters in Authentic Texas Magazine.