105 E. Houston Street,
105 E. Houston Street,San Antonio, TX 78201
5 people favorited this theater
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The Texas theatre opened on December 17th, 1926. Grand opening ads posted.
1940’s photo added courtesy of the Traces Of Texas Facebook page.
I hear you Life’s Too Short. I am happy that the facade was saved. It’s beautiful. But it actually makes it difficult to look at as you can’t help but feel awful that at truly beautiful theater was demolished for a run of the mill office tower. Yes, I prefer the facade over complete demolition, but it still hurts.
I know full well you can’t save every old theater. But this was such a nice room that it’s a shame they couldn’t have done better. I suppose if it had to be this or the Majestic they probably picked the better of the two. But I wish they had finished the job. They should have either torn the facade down or disassembled it and put it back up where it didn’t look like a stuffed deer head on someone’s trophy wall.
Of historic significance, the Texas Theater was the site for the premiere of the first Academy Award for Best Picture recipient, “Wings.” The film was shot in and around San Antonio, primarily at Kelly Field AFB.
I was an usher at the Texas around 1960. Later I worked down the street at the Majestic. Lots of memories.
Just saw this spectacular facade in downtown San Antonio. What an incredible travesty that the rest of this theater was demolished for such an ugly office building which could just as easily have been built on any of the vacant lots in the surrounding area. I’m sure the interior was amazing. I am, however, still grateful that the facade and box office are still with us but it leaves me wanting more. I wish they had made the decision to keep the lights as well. Alas…..
From the late 1930s a postcard view of the Texas Theatre in San Antonio.
The facade looks pretty haphazard tacked onto the new office tower, at least from the photos I have seen.
In truth, neither SBC nor Southwestern Bell had anything to do with the restoration of the terra-cotta facade of the Texas Theatre. The client for the restoration was RepublicBank San Antonio which paid for it. The architect for the facade restoration was Ford, Powell & Carson, Inc. of San Antonio. An attempt was made to restore the sign as well, but it broke into small pieces when it was removed from the facade.
Next time I go to San Antonio to take pics, I’ll get some of what it looks like today.
And the March 17, 2005 photos can’t be viewed anymore either.
The March 2, 2007 demo photos are beyond words of disappointment!
A 1982 close up of the Texas Theatre in San Antonio at the outset of being dismantled.
In reply to Life’s too short, judging from the photo I posted above, the the very ornate Texas Theater appeared to be in good shape on the outside.
A January 1982 view of the Texas Theater in San Antonio.
As I understand it the Texas was in pretty good shape when they demolished it. Can anyone speak to that?
The 19 rank style 260 Special Wurlitzer was removed by Rod Yarbough of Dallas. A sad, quadraplegic accident prevented Rod from installing the organ. In the late 1980s, the organ saw a short rebirth installed in the Schubert/World/Fitzgerald Theatre in St. Paul, MN. The organ was used during some broadcasts of A Prarie Home Companion. Recently the film version of APHC showed the console of the former Texas Wurlitzer stored backstage.
From what I understand, the organ needs a major amout of work to get it playing again.
A photoset of the Texas Theater and its demolition in 1982 can be seen at:
Most people liked the Aztec and Majestic better than the Texas. They were more ornate in their own ways, but the Texas was my favorite of all. It was elegant. It had an orchestra pit, stage, and a beautiful red curtain in front of it’s massive screen. It had a HUGE chandelier above the second balcony, and the “colored” balcony which sat above the projection room had eight small Tiffany style chandeliers. The acoustics were fantastic. Even in the highest perch, the sound was crisp and clear. I explored every nook and cranny in that theatre and found all sorts of hidden rooms, and lots of neat old memorabilia. It is a shame that a jewel like the Texas was demolished, and a much lesser theatre like the Empire was saved.
I went to see some ‘Hercules’ movie there (alone) while my dad was on a convention in San Antonio in about 1973. I was 13. I thought the theater was the most beautiful building I had ever been in. I also remember the theater as being one of the most influential spaces in my lives, for other reasons. :)
SBC does not own nor did they develop the office complex that included the demolition of the Texas Theater. SBC leases space in the thirteen story building that sits on the Texas Theater site for its corporate headquarters. The original developer, RepublicBank of Texas, hired the firm of Ford, Powell & Carson (ironically known in part for lead principal, O'Niel Ford’s preservation work) to design this Riverwalk facing, three building complex, then known as RepublicBank Plaza.
The San Antonio Conservation Society did try and save the theater and went to great lengths to do so. They even promoted a scheme by noted architect Michael Graves (now known more for his cheap clocks, teapots and egg timers at Target than for his architecture). In the end the Texas real estate, petrochemical and banking industry soon went belly up and like the plans for the final building, a 30 story 600,000 sf tower, RepublicBank disappeared almost overnight.
To this day, some 22 years later, the site for the 30 story tower still sits vacant and the site, now simply known as ‘The Plaza’ sits as painful a reminder of lost memories and the many unfulfilled dreams of Texas' oil boom days of the 1980’s.
TC: Great photos!