A Theatre with a Past

 
 

An endangered and historic piece of American history

Begun in 1929 and opening in 1931, the Texas is a glamorous, atmospheric movie palace on a small scale, often described as “an intimate gem”.  The original owner was A.P. Mueller and W. Scott Dunne was the architect.  According to an article in the Seguin Enterprise newspaper on March 12, 1931, (Beautiful Texas Theatre to Open Here March 19), Marvin Eickenroht drew the architectural plans and Albert Nolte, local contractor, built the theatre.


A significant historic feature of The Texas was its accommodations for the hearing impaired. 

The newspaper article stated, “The latest approved Western Electric equipment will be used in projecting its pictures and to this has been added a wrinkle that is new in the business, but approved, and that is that a number of seats have been equipped with an apparatus that can be used by people who are hard of hearing.  This equipment is connected directly with the main mechanism and machinery creating the sound, and will permit persons almost deaf to enjoy the show to the fullest.”


The marquee sign was touted in 1931 as an ornament designed to compare with the finest show houses.  “It is adorned with a beautiful electric sign in front”, according to the article, “an ornament not only for this town, but for a large city.  It carries 620 globes to illuminate it.  The top of the sign displays a white Texas star to symbolize the name of the theatre”.


The Texas Theatre has been seen in several major motion pictures as a classic of its time.  In addition to period films such as The Great Waldo Pepper (1975), Raggedy Man (1981), and The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1991),  The Texas has been in countless commercial advertisements and featured in Texas Monthly’s “The Last Picture Show” by Anne Dingus, December 1995.


As an historic theatre, The Texas is a cultural treasure.  Unlike many historical theatres that have undergone misguided modernization attempts, The Texas remains nearly as it was in 1931, with horsehair batting behind its Mediterranean murals, gilded hand-made mica lamps, original seats, and large-reel projectors.  The historic significance of the marquee is further evidenced in its re-creation and prominent display in the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.


In 1996, The Seguin Conservation Society acquired The Texas Theatre and began plans to restore the treasure to past glory.  The cost to renovate The Texas into a state-of-the-art, multi-media theatre is $2,500,000.  Renowned architect Milton Babbitt, A.I.A, lead architect for restoring the historic Majestic and Empire theatres in San Antonio, developed the original construction and expansion plans that maintain the historic integrity of The Texas while enlarging the rehearsal, backstage, and reception areas to meet modern needs.


In the summer of 2006, the campaign celebrated the announcement of a generous gift and pledge from the Stephen & Mary Birch Foundation totaling $1 million dollars.  This gift, combined with prior and ongoing fundraising efforts has made the dream of seeing this star reborn a true reality.


The Stephen and Mary Birch Texas Theatre had its new grand opening in March, 2011 with a multitude of activities for all ages.