Silent For Years, Texas Theater Being Restored To 1920s Grandeur - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/21/04-Palestine

Silent For Years, Texas Theater Being Restored To 1920s Grandeur

The film stopped rolling and the actors left the stage years ago at the Texas Theater in Palestine. The piece of East Texas history has sat silent -- until now.

A monumental effort is underway to restore "The Lady" -- as it's called -- to it's 1920's grandeur.

Palestine Community Theater board member Michael Cook: "There were three theaters here in town, as I understand, and this was built as the best of the best."

Eighty-three years old, she's solid on the outside, but inside this Palestine landmark shows her age.

Amelia Cook, who is working to restore the Texas: "We were in the middle of doing a show [about six years ago] and literally water was running through [the ceiling] and down the aisle into the back."

The Palestine Community Theater owns the Texas. With thousands of dollars in donations they are slowly, but surely, bringing her back.

"We have a lot of people from around town come by and tell us about seeing movies here," Michael says.

"They came here to see The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur and for dates," he says.

Amelia: "I want to leave this legacy for my kids and grandkids. We refer to it as 'the Lady,' and we've had the campaign for the last five for six years to 'Save The Lady'."

New plumbing, new electrical and most importantly a new roof are on the structure. Now, their work is like a treasure hunt.

To put in the drop ceiling in the 1960s, they had to punch holes in the ceiling from the 1920s. That ceiling is rumored to have been made with real gold.

Michael: "What we're trying to do now is uncover it and we've found some wonderful things."

The building is structurally fine. The job is just to restore the look, the feel and the experience of days and nights gone by.

Amelia: "They just don't make it like this anymore and this is part of community. It is going to shine. The day is going to come when it will look like it did in 1921 and people will flock to see the Texas Theater."

The theater will be open for the public to see the progress during next month's Palestine "Hot Pepper Festival."

Fundraisers are also planned, as many donations are still needed.

Reported by Morgan Palmer.

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