Fifth Ward's DeLuxe Theater Gets Ready For Its Close-Up

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City Council on Wednesday approved a contract with Smith & Company Architects for the renovation of the Fifth Ward's historic DeLuxe Theater. No opening date has been announced for the 59-year old building, which has sat dormant for over thirty years.

Cathy Payton, president and CEO of Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation, told Hair Balls that "the idea is for this to kind of serve as a gathering place and a destination point" for both residents of the Fifth Ward and those outside it.

The $6.8 million restoration projest will, she said, "reconnect the community with [its] proud history and culture through the arts."

Although the city bought the building in December, the Fifth Ward CRC and Texas Southern University are partners in the theater's new life, she said.

According to the theater's website, the newly named DeLuxe Arts and Culture Center will be "restored as a 'performing arts'-themed branch of the Houston Public Library and a black box theater, which will bring a new level of artistic awareness to the community.

"The building will serve a dual purpose -- to bring important theater productions to the community through partnerships with various Houston theater companies and to serve as an educational venue for children of all ages."

The building operated as a cinema from 1941 to 1969 and was located across the street from Club Matinee, known as the "Cotton Club of the South." In 1971, John and Dominique de Menil tranformed it into an art gallery, but the space closed in 1973 and has been vacant ever since.

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