The DeLuxe Theater’s Next Act: Fifth Ward Zydeco Library

The long-discussed renovation of the Fifth Ward’s long-vacant DeLuxe Theatre on Lyons Ave. is a little closer to actually happening since yesterday’s city council approval of a contract with Smith & Company Architects for its part of the $6.8 million project.

Drawings have not been released, but the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation’s website for the theater says that the building’s south facade will be restored to its original appearance. The movie theater was built in 1941, but reopened in 1971 as an art gallery. The 15,000-sq.-ft. shell has been empty for more than 30 years. And now the innards will be reimagined:


The DeLuxe will once again shine — restored as a “performing arts” themed branch of the Houston Public Library and a black box theater . . . 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 full-service Houston Public Library branch will provide all of the services associated with the Houston Public Library system including electronic and on-site book collections, librarian services, individual study and research areas, and current research materials. It will also be home to a one-of-the-kind zydeco archive, which will pay tribute to zydeco’s rich tradition and history in the Fifth Ward. . . . The library and the theater will work in concert to highlight authors, playwrights, musicians, artists and cultural events of interest to the community.

Photos of DeLuxe Theater, 3300 Lyons Ave.: Chris Adams (recent) and DeLuxe Theater (in 1971, as an art gallery)

8 Comment

  • $6,800,000 you have got to be kidding, obviously this figure includes a whole lot more than the renovation/recreation. I would like to know how many years of operating expenses are included and how large the collection will be and who is getting paid. Here’s an idea, quit spending money we don’t have.

  • So when is the Tower Theater going to become an LGBT archive of the Houston Public Library? They could even work ol’ Mary’s in as a coffee bar across the street.

  • $6.8 million?! WTF??

  • Restoration costs a lot of money and so do library services. Um, let me know when this place is hiring, Swamplot! ;)

  • Would be nice if someone did the same thing with the Alabama. It doesn’t need that much restoring. Certainly not as much as the Tower would.

    At least there’s another “performing arts” venue besides Jones Hall/Wortham Center/Hobby Center. Which rarely showcases anything by out local performing arts organizations who simply cannot afford the cost.

  • This is great. When are they going to start?

  • I checked this place out two years ago and that figure for renovation costs is probably realistic. The building was gutted when the MFA did their art show back in the 70’s and it’s been sitting vacant since that point. The projection booth windows are bricked over and from what I could tell some of the roof was missing. Frankly, I’m amazed they’re willing to even try to restore the theatre. Best of luck to them.