From silent movie 15-cent nickelodeon to dollar-house film theater to Spanish cinema to porn house, the Majestic Metro has seen its highs and lows, mimicking the journey of its home in historic downtown Houston near Market Square Park on the corner of Preston and Travis.
On Tuesday night, the landmark venue returns to its original 1926 glory with the first public screening since it closed its doors in 1984. In partnership with the Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow and the Downtown District, the Valentine's Day event features the classic Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Since this feature quickly sold out, architecture and movie buffs should pencil in the June 5 screening of Some Like it Hot starring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe. The series is part of a larger initiative to bring life to downtown.
"Market Square has such a small inventory of historic buildings," Warwick tells CultureMap. "It's very important for Houstonians to recognize that and cherish what little they have."
When developer/owner Gary Warwick reopened the Art Nouveau venue in 1990 after a five-year restoration project, he fashioned it as private space for corporate events, fundraisers and weddings. Through those activities, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Bruce Hornsby, Aaron Neville and The Neville Brothers, The Mavericks and the Doobie Brothers have performed on stage.
"Market Square has such a small inventory of historic buildings, "Warwick tells CultureMap. "It's very important for Houstonians to recognize that and cherish what little they have. We are not San Antonio, Dallas or Austin.
"The few that are here have been turned into unique restaurants, bars and special event spaces."
Warwick was seeking buildings for demolition and land for parking lot development when Majestic Metro came up for sale. The midsize 9,500 square-foot structure stands alongside the Alabama, River Oaks and Capitan Theatre in Pasadena as a handful of intact movie house structures that remain standing locally. Lost to abandonment and demolition are the Delman, Lincoln, Gaylynn, Uptown and Palace theaters.
"The city of Houston has a forward, progressive mentality," Warwick says. "Trying to restore a historic building with modern codes was very challenging. It would have been easier to demolish it and build a replica, but that would not have been right."
In this CultureMap video interview, Warwick talks of the building's history and his plight taking Majestic Metro from rags to riches. It's a story that needs to be told, he says.