In 2014, an official groundbreaking
ceremony was held and renovation on the
historic DeLuxe Theater began!
Take a tour of the DeLuxe Theater during it's use as an art gallery (1971-1973), as documented by
The Menil Foundation. Archival photos were taken for the "DeLuxe Show" during renovation (1971) and the "Tribal Arts of Africa" exhibit (1973).
In 2008, the DeLuxe Theater, and the adjoining Wilkes Furniture Store, sat boarded up and
unused for 35 years. The once iconic building
had fallen into rapid deterioration.
Archival photos taken by the FWCRC - June 2008
In 1998, the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation purchased the theater (3303 Lyons) and adjacent furniture store (3305 Lyons) and began a master plan to reutilize the DeLuxe Theater as a community performing and visual arts facility. Determined to find the right partner, the FWCRC engaged in a tri-party agreement with The City of Houston and Texas Southern University, which led to the current rehabilitation of the renowned venue.
Texas Southern University (TSU) has partnered with the City of Houston to invest in the building as an occupant and user. The DeLuxe Theater will offer educational programming and performance space for TSU. Other parts of the building, such as the eastern wing, which was formally Wilk’s furniture store (3305 Lyons), will be used in a non-performance manner such as an art gallery or special event space and will be managed by The Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation. The original façade of the building, facing Lyons Avenue, has been restored, including the marquee.
Located at a high-profile intersection with Gregg Street, the theater presents an opportunity for a major step forward in the visual revitalization of Lyons Avenue, which enhances the immediate area’s image to potential residents. Furthermore, the interest and programming generated by the DeLuxe Theater will draw visitors and raise general market awareness of the Fifth Ward.
The DeLuxe Theater, now operated through a tri-party agreement between the City of Houston, the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation, and Texas Southern University, includes a 125 seat proscenium theater, property room, dressing rooms, box office, concession area, lobby, state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment, administrative offices, multipurpose space, wet bar, and outdoor patio with programming offered by both the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation and Texas Southern University.
For more information about The Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation, please visit their website at: www.fifthwardcrc.org.
For more information about Texas Southern University Theatre, please visit their website at:
The DeLuxe Theater is a historic cornerstone of Lyons Avenue’s cultural heritage, and that of the Fifth Ward generally.
The DeLuxe Theater opened in April 1941 and is located at 3303 Lyons Avenue in the heart of Houston's Fifth Ward. The Streamline Moderne structure joined the Roxy and Palace Theaters to provide neighborhood motion picture entertainment. Characteristics of the Streamline Moderne style include its concrete surface, rounded corners, semicircular bays, metal windows and other specific details that indicate motion. Both Art Deco and Streamline architectural styles veered from the revival styles popular at the turn of the Twentieth Century and captured the spirit and essence of the modern age and the future. The Streamline Moderne style was a popular American architectural style from 1920-1949.
In the early 20th-century, the 3300 block of Lyons Avenue was predominantly residential with a smattering of small commercial enterprises such as a blacksmith shop and drug store. The McGowen School, later Phillis Wheatley High School, was also located in the adjacent block (3400) of Lyons Avenue. By the mid-1930s, the Crystal White Taxi Line and its associated businesses (a beauty shop, hotel, and domino and shoe shine parlors) were operating in the 3200 block of Lyons and continued at this location through the late 1950s. The Houston City Directory lists the Crystal White Taxi Line as the parent company of many businesses in the area, including the famous Club Matinee known locally as the "Cotton Club" of the South.
After the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, the days of segregated movie theaters came to an end and the DeLuxe closed in 1969.
From August 15 to September 12, 1971, the “DeLuxe Show” was held at the theater on Lyons. Sponsored by the Menil Foundation, the “DeLuxe Show” was one of the first racially integrated exhibitions of contemporary artists in the United States at a time of a nationwide controversy on opportunities for black artists. (1) Peter Bradley, Jefferee James, Mickey Leland and others coordinated the successful integrated exhibition that realized an attendance of more than 4,000 people. In 1972 and 1973 the DeLuxe Theater was home to two more art exhibits, the last being the Tribal Arts of Africa exhibit. Despite hopes of continuing to use the theater as an arts venue, the building has been dark since 1973 and had fallen into rapid deterioration.
1. “DE LUXE SHOW.” The Handbook of Texas Online.http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/DD/kld3.html [Accessed Wed Dec 5 10:44:02 US/Central 2001].