Damage to Wortham Theater Center Forces Closure Till at Least May 2018

The Wortham Theater Center (left) was harder hit by Hurricane Harvey than originally thought.
The Wortham Theater Center (left) was harder hit by Hurricane Harvey than originally thought. Photo by Justin Nava

The Wortham Theater Center (left) was harder hit by Hurricane Harvey than originally thought.
Photo by Justin Nava
Sad news indeed this morning from the Wortham Theater Center folks. Because of extensive water damage, the theater center — home to the Houston Ballet and the Houston Grand Opera, among others — will be closed until at least May 15, 2018.

In a message posted on the Wortham Facebook page, Dawn Ullrich, president and CEO of Houston First Corporation, which manages the Wortham, says while there doesn't appear to be structural damage, there was significant harm done to about a third of the theater's a/c units and elevators.

Here's the Facebook post:

On August 27, water from Hurricane Harvey filled our basement with 12 feet of water. In addition, water filled the tunnel that connects the Wortham to the Theater District Parking Garage. While the building was powered down before the worst of the storm, initial assessments revealed potentially dangerous conditions and a clear threat to the mechanical and electrical equipment and building contents. To prevent further damage, Houston First Corporation immediately retained Gilbane Reconstruction Services to begin pumping out the water and stabilizing the building.

At this point, it does not appear that the building has suffered structural damage, but there has been extensive damage to at least one-third of our air handling units and to the elevators. Houston First and Gilbane continue to work hand-in-hand to complete an evaluation of the critical building systems. That work should be complete in 2-3 weeks.

"We appreciate the patience and support of our resident performing arts partners, as well as their patrons and supporters. We are steadfastly committed to seeing that everyone is back on their home stage as soon as possible," said Dawn Ullrich, president and CEO, Houston First Corporation.

We will be posting rescheduled dates and locations of events and performances originally scheduled to take place at the Wortham Center as we receive that information.

The Houston Ballet has already moved its upcoming performance of Mayerling to the Hobby Center. There's no doubt it, HGO and other arts organizations scheduled to be at the Wortham are scrambling now to find new temporary homes.

The financial ramifications for all involved are potentially equally damaging. Even with insurance, repairs are costly. Then there's the lost income for the center as well as the possibility each arts organization may see decreased revenues if they have to drop some shows entirely or operate on a reduced schedule.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
Contact: Margaret Downing