Tax Credit Program Highlights: Heights Theater

Houston, Harris

1929, 1935

Designation

Individually list in the National Register of Historic Places

Historic Use

Movie theater

Current Use

Live music venue

Total Rehabilitation Cost

$3,345,192

Qualified Rehabilitation Expenses

$1,432,475

Date Certified

November 21, 2017

 

Also certified for Federal Historic Tax Credits

History

When originally constructed in 1929, the Heights Theater was a Mission Revival style building with an open-air lobby and more ornate parapet. It was renovated in 1935, in the Streamline Moderne style that was popular for movie houses of the time, with the rounded parapets, porthole windows, and neon signs. Air-conditioning was also added at this time. A large fire in 1969 destroyed the interior of the building, miraculously leaving the façade untouched. Since then, the building has served as an avant-garde theater and, more recently, a community art gallery.

Rehabilitation Project

After the 1969 fire, the only remaining historic elements inside the building were ceramic floor tiles, in a random, broken tile pattern. The structural clay tile walls had been left exposed, with a bare concrete sloped floor, and exposed roof structure. Since these were existing conditions, the building’s structural materials were allowed to remain exposed as part of the current rehabilitation project. The sloped floor was infilled, to create a flat surface for varying seating layouts. A simple balcony was added around the theater (now listening room), with a second floor inserted over the lobby. The historic ceramic tile was preserved in the lobby, delineating the footprint of the original lobby area. A new bar was added in both the first floor and second floor lobby areas, with a green room, dressing rooms, and sound rooms added behind the stage. Exterior neon was restored and given a fresh of coat of paint in historically appropriate colors.

Photo Gallery

Click on any image to view the photo gallery.

  • The Heights Theater is part of the commercial district along 19th Street in the Houston Heights neighborhood.