Tax Credit Program Highlight: Waco Hippodrome

Waco, McLennan County



Individually listed in National Register of Historic Places

Historic Use

Movie theater and performance venue

Current Use

Movie theater and restaurant

Total Rehabilitation Cost


Qualified Rehabilitation Expenses


Date Certified

April 21, 2016


Also certified for Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credits.


Built in 1914, the “grand dame of Austin Avenue” originally hosted live performances, silent movies and vaudeville acts. A 1928 projection booth fire forced the renovation that produced the current Spanish Colonial Revival style iteration of the building. Another fire in 1933 and subsequent renovation resulted in the addition of the balcony and mezzanine. The Hippodrome closed in the late 1970s due to the growing popularity of suburban movie theaters. The Waco Performing Arts Company eventually took ownership and ran the theater for more than 20 years until financial issues ultimately forced closure once again in 2010.

Rehabilitation Project

This project reestablished the Waco Hippodrome theater as a modern entertainment center that offers meal service with movie screenings. The largest work item in the rehabilitation was the construction of an addition, which provides additional support space for ticketing, egress, food preparation, restrooms, and dining. The addition was designed to be compatible but distinct from the historic building. Within the original space, later alterations such as restrooms and ticket booths were removed to reestablish the historic floor plan. Seating patterns in the theater were redesigned to allow for dining, and a retractable screen wall was installed to separate the balcony from the main theater, increasing the flexibility of the space without compromising the design. Significant repairs were made throughout the building to restore character-defining features to their former glory: notably the exterior entrance canopy, and decorative plaster wall treatments and ceiling dome in the playhouse.

Photo Gallery

Click on any image to view the photo gallery.

  • The brick addition (at right) was constructed to be neutral and compatible in character with the historic theater, and blend into the fabric of the downtown.