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Historic Wallace Theater is early settler business
Published:
7/10/2019 8:40:36 AM
Last Updated:
7/10/2019 9:07:01 AM


The 34th anniversary of the Wallace Theater in 1954. (Photo courtesy of Alycyn Keeling)
 
By Joe Gonzales
Sports Editor

If the walls of the Wallace Theater could talk, imagine the stories it could tell.


In 1925, the original Wallace Theater was built by Wallace Blankenship. 


In 1928, Blankenship built the new Wallace Theater across the street in the 800 block of Houston Street. 


In 1949, it was renovated and reopened as “West Texas’ Finest.” At that time, it was a state-of-the-art-theater which among
some of the items, included  E-7 Simplex projectors.


The theater also had both a cry room and smoking room.  


By 1957 Blankenship had built the largest small town theater chain in America, which consisted of 27 theaters in the West Texas area.


But by the mid-to-late 1980s, the Wallace Theater was closed. And remained closed until the late George Keeling, and his wife, Iris, purchased it in 2002. 


The revitalization project on the historic theater located in downtown Levelland actually began in March of 2002. And many years later, renovations are still ongoing.


Even more impressive, the Wallace is getting closer to being what it once was. 

Alycyn Keeling, the daughter of George and Iris Keeling, acts as   Executive Director for the Wallace Theater.

She said the board was put together after they realized there was no way the project could be done by themselves.


“More importantly, for this to be a long-term, sustainable project, it needed to be a community project,” she said. “Everything we do, we want the community to be involved.”


Keeling said they want every person who walks through the door of the Wallace to feel like the theater is theirs and that they own it.


“We want them to know they are a part of this restoration,” she said. “By making sure that happens, it will also ensure this is a long-term, sustainable project.” 


Keeling said she would like to see the project completed in three to five years. 


“The past six months, we, the board, have been reevaluating our construction plans and our concept design and are deciding what we need to do to make this place functional,” said Keeling. 

In celebration of Early Settlers' Day this year, the Wallace Theater will host face painting and theater tours. The theater is located at 823 Houston Street, on the corner of Avenue H. For more information about donating or volunteering for the Wallace Theater, go online to www.wallacetheater.com.

Read the full story in Wednesday's edition of the News-Press.
 

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