A History of the DeLUXE Theater
The DeLUXE Theater is a historic cornerstone of Lyons Avenue’s cultural heritage and the 5th Ward community.
The DeLUXE Theater opened in April 1941 as the premiere Black movie theater and is located at 3303 Lyons Avenue in the heart of Houston’s 5th Ward. In the early 20th-century, the 3300 block of Lyons Avenue was predominantly residential with a smattering of small commercial enterprises such as a blacksmith shop and drug store. The McGowen School, later Phillis Wheatley High School, was also located in the adjacent block (3400) of Lyons Avenue. By the mid-1930s, the Crystal White Taxi Line and its associated businesses (a beauty shop, hotel, and domino and shoe shine parlors) were operating in the 3200 block of Lyons and continued at this location through the late 1950s. The Houston City Directory lists the Crystal White Taxi Line as the parent company of many businesses in the area, including the famous Club Matinee known locally as the “Cotton Club” of the South.
After the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, the days of segregated movie theaters came to an end and the DeLUXE closed in 1969. The Theater sat empty until 2015
The DeLUXE Theater is Reborn
In 1998, the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation purchased the DeLUXE theater and the adjacent furniture store and began a master plan to reutilize the DeLuxe Theater as a community performing and visual arts facility. Determined to find the right partner, the FWCRC engaged in a tri-party agreement with The City of Houston and Texas Southern University, which led to the current rehabilitation of the renowned venue.
In 2014, an official groundbreaking ceremony was held and renovation on the historic DeLUXE Theater began. The theater now includes a 125 seat proscenium theater, property room, dressing rooms, box office, concession area, lobby, state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment, administrative offices, multipurpose space, wet bar, and outdoor patio. The theater now offers dance and music programming, event space and community initiatives.
Taking a tour of the DeLuxe Theater during its use as an art gallery (1971-1973), as documented by The Menil Foundation. Archival photos were taken for the “DeLuxe Show” during renovation (1971) and the “Tribal Arts of Africa” exhibit (1973).
The DeLUXE Theater
Theater within reach
Our mission is to create a space where arts and culture live – on and off the stage – by providing theater and creative experiences that are within reach for all artists and all people.
We support artists, irrespective of discipline or career stage, by providing a hub for creating and performing works. The DeLUXE Theater seeks to energize the 5th Ward community by using the stage to educate, empower and entertain its audiences. Our “Reachable- Arts for All” approach is achieved by building and maintaining bridges between creatives, community and the city.
A Cultural Arts Destination
5th Ward has long been a melting pot of artistic talent, culinary greatness, and rich culture. A place for Houstonians to not just see the arts, but become part of it.
It’s time the rest of the world know and we need your help!
Local organizations, businesses, and residents are working to designate 5th Ward a “Cultural Arts District.” Just so you know how important this is, there are less than fifty in Texas and five in Houston.
Director of Arts & Culture