Arts & Culture

Cultural Heritage Restored: The Renovation Of A Historic Fifth Ward Theater

The DeLuxe Theater was a popular African-American theater in the mid-20th Century, but has been vacant for over four decades. As the building’s renovation nears completion, it’s seen as part of a bigger project many are calling the “Lyons Avenue Renaissance.”


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Kathy standing outside of the DeLuxe
“We’ve got to do a final walkthrough and do some punch-list items and put the sparkle on it. And then the last component will be the public room, which will take about 30 days,” says the Kathy Flanagan-Payton, the Fifth Ward CRC’s Chief Executive Officer and President. The theater’s grand opening is set for October.


Kathy Flanagan-Payton has been with Houston’s Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation for 22 years. She was also born and raised in the Fifth Ward. That’s why giving new life to the historic DeLuxe Theater really resonates with her — and with others in the neighborhood.

“And every time I tell somebody about this opportunity, they can tell me about the first movie that they saw here, or their first kiss, or what transpired here in the DeLuxe Theater,” she says.

The theater has seen a number of incarnations since opening as a movie house in 1941. But for over 40 years, it’s been empty. The roof had deteriorated to the point of letting rain and sunlight through. All the copper in the building had been stolen. Even the seats were unbolted from the floor and taken. 

inside the DeLuxe
The 125-seat house will serve as an intimate, multi-use venue.

Now, 125 new seats fill the house.

Flanagan-Payton says it’ll serve as a multi-purpose venue.

“We’re looking to bring a diverse art form to the community,” she says. “So it will not just be performing arts, but it will also include visual arts, as well as oral presentations.”

The CRC is partnering with the City of Houston and Texas Southern University for a full revamping of the building. It’s part of a larger initiative to revitalize the entire area.

Flanagan-Payton says that HISD will soon be adding more schools to the Fifth Ward.

Down the street, a construction site will eventually be a new young men’s college preparatory academy. There’s also talk about getting a new public library.

“And this is just one of those projects that we’re working on to really restore the economic vitality to the Fifth Ward and our main street. Lyons Avenue is our main street,” she adds.

Renovation of the DeLuxe Theater is expected to be complete within the next 30 days. The grand opening is set for October.


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