By KBEC staff
Miranda Lambert once sang on the stage of the Texas Theater in downtown Waxahachie. A Johnny Cash-themed satellite radio show even once broadcasted live from the third story.
Thanks to a local family dedicated to preserving and promoting Waxahachie, The Texas Theater will once again have its turn in the spotlight.
Jon and Alyssa Garrett officially closed on the historic theatre from Lake-Moreno Partners on Wednesday. The renovation efforts at 110 W Main began Thursday morning. Should all things proceed smoothly, The Texas Theater should open to the public again for the first time in over a decade in early Nov. 2022.
The Garretts also recently purchased KBEC 1390AM/99.1FM, the longest-running and independently-owned radio station in Texas. That hometown staple is located at 711 Ferris Avenue and there are no plans to move the station that first hit the airwaves in 1955, either.
The Garretts now own and have committed to reinvesting into a pair of entities that have combined for over 182 years of history in Ellis County’s Gingerbread Capital. Despite the radio station thriving, the Texas Theater has sat vacant for most of the past decade.
“KBEC and The Texas Theater have held a special place in our community for many decades,” Jon said. “While the two can work to promote each other, The Texas Theater brings a new opportunity to further our already thriving downtown.
“The soon-reality of having dinner and a show right on the square is very exciting. I’m blessed to have an opportunity to bring the Theater back to life.”
The history of The Texas Theater could fill a few notebooks. Fortunately, the Waxahachie Daily Light and Ellis County Museum provided the highlights prior to Wednesday’s sale.
A fire destroyed the northern block of the downtown square in Dec. 1893. Fourteen years later, the Daily Light confirms the Edison Entertainment Co. began showing “high-class moving pictures” in the “theatorium” where Texas currently sits. The Majestic Theatre officially opened for the first time on Feb. 15, 1907. It primarily showed “moving pictures.”
By 1913, there were three moving picture theaters on the downtown square — The Dixie, Empire (Majestic) and Freedman Theaters.
The Texas Theater was renovated into the three-story structure with a second-story balcony as it currently sits today by 1925. It was known as the Simpson Building at that time.
The Ritz then opened in 1934, which moved the movie screen from the front-of-house to the back (like theaters of today). It also brought about ornate decorations on the ceilings and walls. Admission ranged from 25-30 cents for adults and 10 cents for children.
Four years later, The Ritz met its end thanks to a fire in the balcony on Dec. 3, 1938. The Texas Theater officially opened as “one of the finest small-city theaters in the state” on March 31, 1939.
The opening show was “Jesse James,” a 20th Century-Fox Technicolor film starring Tyronne Power in the title role.
The Texas Theater operated in various capacities through 2009, when it was purchased with funds by the City of Waxahachie Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone. A five-year agreement was later signed between the City of Waxahachie and Lake-Moreno Partners, which was never fulfilled.
That partnership ended with the sale of the property to the Garretts.
“Like I said a couple of months ago, this is an exciting time for KBEC and now The Texas Theater, and it’s an honor to be able to continue playing a role in the successes of our community,” said Jon. “We will build the Theater back to its original glory and then some. There have been many advances in theatrics over the years, which will allow us to reconstruct the Theater for multi-purpose use — live concerts, plays, movies, comedy and much more. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for KBEC, The Texas Theater and Waxahachie!”
Jon and Alyssa (a Maypearl graduate) Garrett married in 2013 and have four kids: Avery (3), Finn (6), Landry (8) and Tre (14). They reside on W Main St.
Jon moved to Waxahachie in 2004, just before his freshman year at Waxahachie High School.
For more information on booking, renovation progress, inquiries and more, be on the lookout for the official The Texas Theater social media pages.