Texas Forts Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Historic Theatres

Exterior view of Ector Theater in Odessa
Ector Theater, Odessa


A mention of historic theaters in Texas often conjures up visions of blinking marquees and wrap-around neon like the mid-century modern Ector Theater in Odessa, a 1950s beacon of Hollywood proportions. But in actuality, some historic theaters in Texas harken to an earlier era, pre "flicks," when live stage productions including vaudeville and opera provided a Saturday night’s entertainment.

Austin’s Classical Revival-style Paramount Theater, completed in 1915, hosted stage greats like Harry Houdini, perhaps the largest draw in vaudeville history before his untimely death from a ruptured appendix. But with the dawn of cinema, movies eclipsed an entire generation of stage entertainers, spurring an era of elaborate movie theater design. San Antonio’s Majestic Theater, considered one of the most ornate theatrical venues in the nation, is a stunning example with its fantasy villa surround inspired by Mission, Baroque, and Mediterranean architectural traditions. As the lights dim and the curtain rises, its vaulted "sky" comes to life with twinkling stars and drifting clouds overhead.

Ornate or simple, first run films or live performances, historic theaters touch an emotional note for Texans. That’s why citizens in Wellington, Seguin, Sweetwater, or Paris, just to name a few communities with active, restored theaters, are happy to invite you to the show.

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Read more about Texas theater in the Handbook of Texas Online.