What Would Stay and What Would Go in a Trader Joe’s Alabama Theater Clearance

Trader Joe’s hasn’t yet signed a lease for the former Alabama Theater location at 2922 S. Shepherd it’s considering for its first-ever Houston store. But the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance has scouted out a few details on what would likely stay and what would likely go in a Two Buck Chuck-ified Art Deco theater interior. Staying: the building’s mezzanine and lighting, though with “some modifications.” Going: the Shepherd-side entrance vestibule of the 1939 building, including original enameled panels and poster frames and the swirly-patterned terrazzo flooring — which is sloped too steeply to meet current ADA requirements, according to the city’s planning director. A Weingarten Realty spokesperson says current plans are to replace the terrazzo with concrete. Also, the mural shown above — which formed the right cheek of the theater’s movie screen (later the magazine section of Bookstop) — is slated for removal.

Photos: David Bush (terrazzo) and Jim Parsons (mural)

7 Comment

  • The ‘swirly pattern terrazzo floor’ is too steep? I can hardly believe that.
    Why can’t the new owner keep the Art Deco enameled panels at the entrance?! It’s just surface deco.
    What the heck –
    Trader Joes should expect to maintain ALL the existing kitsch in order to keep the goodwill of Houston; because a lot of us really love that low-key commercial center.
    Whether 200-yrs-old or 20-yrs-old: Both are irreplacable here in Houston.

  • I’m sad to hear this. I honestly didn’t care who moved into the space as long as they could save some of the Art Deco touches. I knew it would probably end up wiped out, but I was always hopeful that a company with a touch of preservation in their heart would move in.

  • Uhhhh… it’s not preservation if you don’t preserve things. It’s just remodeling.

    Surprised they didn’t try harder to get a variance for the terrazzo, or find some way to save it with a clear covering.

  • Would they please offer the items for sale rather than destroying them? The proceeds could be assigned to a relevant charity, such as the Houston Food Bank or Meals on Wheels.

  • I think Trader Joe’s said it will save the removed enamel panels from the entrance for use elsewhere in the building, so that’s good. Still, it would be a shame to lose the terrazzo and the mural.

  • Darbymom— AGREE ! ! AGREE ! ! AGREE! !

  • Something’s wrong with this picture!!

    I’ve been a huge TJ fan for over 10 yrs. When in a state with a TJ, I’d drive way out of my way just to shop there.

    I’m also a huge fan of historic architecture, and much prefered the home built in 1927, of the five I’ve owned.

    I shopped and spent money, with the previous bookstore tennant all, easily, from my wheelchair.

    There must be a way… perhaps glassing off the Shepherd entry, even with the perimeter of the building, and then make it part of a display area. It could actually be an attraction to get a potential customer to the store. Many places I frequent have signs pointing the way to the wheelchair entrance. Personally, I’d be enthralled to see the mosaic but use an alternate entry.

    Come on folks, (Winegarten, TJ, CoH) let’s get a creative win/win solution!!!