Majestic Theatre

224 E. Houston Street,
San Antonio, TX 78205

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Majestic Theatre

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The Majestic Theatre was opened June 14th, 1929 by the Interstate Theatre Corporation, designed by Chicago architect John Eberson. It is regarded as among the best examples of Eberson’s Atmospheric style theatres in the country.

When it opened, the Majestic Theatre had a seating capacity of 3,703, the largest movie house of the South at that time, and among the many movie houses of San Antonio, including the nearby Empire Theatre, the Texas Theatre and the Aztec Theatre. The Majestic was probably the city’s most popular-an entertainment mecca unlike anything the city had ever seen, hosting vaudeville, stage shows and motion pictures.

While the exterior was fairly straightforward (except for the marquee and multi-story vertical sign), looking like simply an office tower that could have been in any US city of the day, the inside was awe-inspiring. From its spacious lobby, complete with statuary and ornate plasterwork, as well as an aquarium filled with tropical fish, to its lounges and various other public areas, patrons must have immediately felt like they were in a fantasy land, but it wasn’t until they entered the auditorium itself that they were truly transported.

The auditorium, with its tiered balconies, and sea of plush seats, was cavernous. Its ceiling, painted deep blue, was dotted with “stars”, with artificial clouds slowly rolling by. Eberson insisted on being as authentic as possible, and consulted the National Geographic Society to make sure the constellations were accurate. The side walls were built to resemble a Spanish village, complete with ivy-covered turrets and spires, windows and archways, Roman statuary and stuffed birds half hidden in the greenery.

Three sets of boxes on either side of the balcony, stretching along the side walls, blend smoothly into the ornate plaster facades. Above the soaring proscenium, itself covered in plasterwork, is a statue of the goddess Venus, looking across the auditorium.

After decades delighting audiences, both with its onscreen offerings, as well as the breathtaking surroundings, the Majestic, like so many of its neighbors, drew less and less patrons once television became more and more prevalent, and finally closed in 1974.

Seven years later, after a superficial remodeling (which unfortunately removed a great deal of the original decor, which had been mostly intact until then), the Majestic reopened as a venue for touring Broadway shows, until it was closed again in 1988, for a complete renovation and restoration project, which would return the theater to close to its original splendor. Las Casas, the Foundation for Cultural Arts in San Antonio, spent close to $5 million on bringing the palace back to life.

When it reopened amidst great fanfare in 1989, it was now the home of the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, which celebrated its half century by moving into its magnificent new venue.

In addition to classical concerts, the Symphony also offers a “Pops” series, as well as children’s concerts. The Majestic continues to also host Broadway shows, including “Miss Saigon”, “Rent”, and “Beauty and the Beast”.

The Majestic Theatre is listed on both the State and National Register of Historic Places.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

EnnisCAdkins
EnnisCAdkins on July 20, 2009 at 7:10 pm

In October 1956, three friends and I traveled from Kerrville to San Antonio to see GIANT at the Majestic. We were all in our teens and big James Dean fans. It was a Saturday afternoon and you should have seen the crowds. After we purchased our tickets, we had to stand in line down the street for almost two hours before we could get in. That same line went almost around the entire block. Wow. What an exciting day. Once we found our seats, we were amazed at the beauty and size of the auditorium. The theater quickly filled up and the when the picture went on the screen, the audience went wild. This was one of my best movie experiences.

jazzland
jazzland on June 11, 2010 at 10:31 pm

I visited the Majestic Wednseday night to see “Young Frankenstein”. More correctly, I was in San Antonio for the first time and went to see th Majestic Theatre; “Young Frankenstein” happend to be playing that night. The theatre is spectacular. The lobby and foyer furniture are gone but the interior is very beautiful. The show was entertaining, and the site lines from the balcony were very good. The only dissappointment was the “no photograpy” rule which was strictly, but politely, enforced by the staff. Even after explaining that I was only interested in images of the building (not the patrons or the production), I was told that photograpy was not allowed. I would have gladly purchased a book about the facility if one were available.

DonLewis
DonLewis on July 21, 2010 at 9:52 pm

From 1955 at the world premier of “To Hell and Back” Audie Murphy waving at the crowd in front of the Majestic.

DonLewis
DonLewis on July 24, 2010 at 2:36 am

From the early 1940s a postcard view of downtown San Antonio and the MajesticTheatre.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on July 24, 2010 at 2:52 am

Yeah,JAZZLAND can’t believe they would not let you take pictures.The show might have been enforcing that rule.Lots of roadshows want to no cameras in the building.I am stagehand and see it first hand quite a bit.

DonLewis
DonLewis on September 14, 2010 at 5:44 am

From the late 1930s a postcard view of the MajesticTheatre in San Antonio.

LuisV
LuisV on May 30, 2011 at 12:48 am

This theater seems to be fantastic. Unfortunately, nothing was playing while I was in San Antonio. Of all the San Antonio theaters that were ever built I am most happy that this one in particular has been saved. Their Broadway schedule for the 2011/2012 season includes La Cage Aux Folles next Spring so I will try to come back then to actually see a production inside this Eberson masterpiece.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on November 19, 2012 at 8:11 am

I too love the Majestic, but it is tied in my affections with the equally incredible Aztec; I worry even more about the Aztec’s long term prospects because all they have come up with since its restoration in terms of programming has been crappy touristy-oriented stuff.

Patsy
Patsy on January 14, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Just learned of this theatre through a neighbor whose mother lives in San Antonio Texas!

cccmoviehouses
cccmoviehouses on February 7, 2014 at 3:56 am

The Majestic, one of the truly grand theaters! I was fortunate to go to this treasure in 1963 while in the Air Force at Lackland. I had never seen such a theater, stars and clouds, what a interior, I don' t remember what was playing, I was in such awe of this magnificent theater. San Antonio has saved one of the great theaters to be enjoyed for years to come.

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