Houston architecture falls at a drop of a hat. Less so does its theatres, only because the most all of the older ones are gone. But rare is the theatre that comes back from the dead. This makes the announcement of the De Luxe Theatre restoration all the more special.
This was touted on the front page of the Houston Chronicle (Tuesday, February 18 edition), with a public ceremony headed by Mayor Annise Parker and other officials to mark the occasion. This was not a simple restoration of an old theatre, but an effort to revitalize a section of the Fifth Ward.
The theatre, at 3303 Lyons, opened in 1941 to serve the African American community surrounding it. Of course, there were others that catered to these needs—the Lincoln, the Rainbow, the Queen, and the Roxy, itself only a few blocs away at 2737 Lyons—since the larger downtown theatres were segregated. The De Luxe eventually closed down in 1969, reopening only briefly in the early seventies as an art gallery sponsored by the Menil Foundation.
What is notable about the restoration is that the theatre is there in shell only. The front facade and walls are all that are left of the space, much like what was left of the Heights Theatre after it burned in the latter sixties.
The partnership between the city of Houston, Texas Southern University, and the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Authority will allow the space to be used as both a new facility for the arts and a training ground for students. Other revitalization plans for the area also include a branch library and 100 single-family homes, the latter funded through federal Hurricane Ike Relief.
For more details, see the following links: