Upstairs in the Texas Theatre, a whole new auditorium is taking shape

tagsRed Fabric Auditorium Seats

December 9, 2020 1:29 PM CST

Since reopening in 2010, the Texas Theater has become an essential place in Dallas. In addition to film screenings, the landmark Oak Cliff Mansion regularly hosts concerts, comedies, community events, and sometimes even ballets.

Now, the place where Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested is adding a second theater with 165 seats.

The new theater will take shape on the balcony of the only auditorium in the 89-year-old building. The space on the second floor has been idle for decades. Currently empty, except for some specific steps. But with the help of soundproof walls, adjusting the slope of the floor and a screen of about 40 feet (the same size as the one downstairs), this area will become its own separate screening room.

Operator Barak Epstein said: "Until we finish using the balcony of the theater, this is our goal."

In cooperation with the construction company Corgan and historic renovation consultant MacRostie Historic Advisors, the plan to add a second cinema to the theater has been underway for more than five years. It costs less than $2 million. Construction began this month.

This is also a strange moment for various cinemas across the country.

The Texas State Theater has been closed since March. In addition to some limited-capacity screening venues, the operators also show movies in the parking lot behind the building. The plan is to complete the reopening of the new space in late spring or early summer of 2021.

When asked how operators can use the new auditorium, Epstein said: "We will bring more movies, more live performances, more private events." He said that it will play like a traditional movie theater. Function, but also provides flexibility for smaller on-site or private events.

The Texas Theatre, built in 1931, was almost burnt down in 1995, forcing it to close. It reopened next year, showing films in Spanish, and then closed again. The non-profit organization Oak Cliff Foundation bought the building in 2001 and raised millions of dollars for renovations in the following years.

A local aviation cinema group leased the theater in 2010 and started hosting its already well-known events. (The name is a tribute to Howard Hughes, some of the owners of the Texas Theater when it first opened.) Aviation also made more physical changes to the building. The team established a bar and commissary, and since then upgraded the PA system and added 35mm and 4K projectors.

Since the early 1980s, American artists have been operating theaters and used them as regional headquarters, and the balcony has been closed. The area was transformed into office and storage space, but by the 90s, it had become dilapidated.

Corgan's senior assistant James Adams led the team that designed the balcony project. (Interestingly, the theater is some of the earliest works of the Dallas Company in the 1930s.) He pointed out that the building’s "original 1930s style has a Spanish revival appearance", most of which were destroyed in the 1995 fire or elsewhere. Was demolished.

Adams said: "After the assassination, after the birth of the entire Hate City, they tried to cover up our past in the classic Dallas style. They tried to completely redo the theater in 1965." "So on the register, the architecture Recognized in two different time periods. Committed to design, the goal is to recognize the two eras."

For example, the stairs leading to the new auditorium will have original 1930s handrails. But Adams said that in other cases, it makes more sense to preserve the changes from the 1960s (such as the large modern arch upstairs).

Structurally, the new screening room will retain a balcony to make the project comply with the guidelines of the Texas History Commission and the National Park Service.

Chris Florance, a spokesperson for the Texas History Commission, said: "The theater has undergone a lot of changes." "These changes will not affect this further, and what they do is reversible."

The new theater can be accessed through the original staircase of the balcony, which has been closed to the public for 40 years. Other changes planned for the upstairs space include a second bar, ADA-compliant lifts and new seats. (The original balcony seats that were removed many years ago have been refurbished and sold on the Texas Theater website.)

The project will also bring about changes to the main auditorium. On the other side of the balcony’s soundproof wall, 20 to 25 new seats will be added to the existing 645 downstairs. Upgrading to the main room lighting is also part of the job.

Before the Texas State Theater reopens with two auditoriums, it will be used as the satellite theater of the Sundance Film Festival for several days of screenings, which is planned to be promoted in several venues in the United States in January, which is driven by the pandemic caused.

, Special contributor

. Jeremy Hallock (Jeremy Hallock) is a freelance writer based in Dallas.

Catch up with the vibrant arts and cultural community of North Texas released every Monday.

By signing, you agree to our

Stand with us on our mission to discover and discover the story of North Texas

Contact Us
  • Maggie Kwan
  • +86 757 2363 2953
  • +86 139 2480 2689
  • +86 757 2387 9469
  • +86 139 2480 2689