Liberty County’s ‘Last Picture Show’ closing, will become concert venue

The historic Texan Theater, located at 102 E. Houston St. in Cleveland, was once called the Texas Theater. The theater first opened around 1933 and was owned by John G. Long of Bay City, Texas.

By Vanesa Brashier, editor@bluebonnetnews.com

After an 89-year run, the Texan Theater in Cleveland will cease operations as a movie theater on Sept. 8. The historic theater, the last of its kind still open in Liberty County and recognized with a Liberty County Historical Commission marker on May 15, 2021, has been negatively impacted by the changes in movie-viewing habits in recent years and the arrival of multiplex theaters in neighboring communities.

Instead of shuttering the building or gutting it for offices or retail space, the Texan Theater has found new life as a concert venue. Tarkington resident Curt Smith, owner of Pineywoods Rooters Entertainment and Promotions, has inked a deal with the building’s owner, and Smith and his business partner, Aaron Holmes, plan to offer live music and comedy shows while keeping the building’s authentic, historic charm.

“PWR is proud to make this happen in such a historical theater, something that has been done in cities all over Texas and beyond. Huntsville, Conroe and Houston are just a few that have transitioned the same way. All of these venues have had great success and are a fun place to go for events,” said Smith.

Changes will be minor, mostly to create VIP seating in the balcony area and in the first three rows of the lower level. The theater can accommodate up to 265 people – 65 on the upper level and 200 on the lower level, and because the theater is small, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. A storage room behind the stage will be outfitted as a greenroom where artists can relax before and after a show.

“We at PWR are delighted to keep the Texan Theater in its original state. It has been a staple in the city and county since 1939. We are honored to take over operations and turn this into an event hall for everyone to enjoy for years to come,” Smith said.

Smith and Holmes started PWR Entertainment and Promotions in January 2022 with a headquarters at 130 College St., Cleveland. In that short period of time, the company has grown rapidly with PWR now handling live music shows for restaurants in Houston, Conroe, Cleveland and the surrounding areas. The company represents multiple music artists and offers a recording studio. Smith calls PWR a “one-stop shop” in the music industry.

“Normally, in the music industry, you will find a management company, a booking company, a promotions company and a recording studio all doing different things for a music artist. We have slimmed it down where we have all the need,” he said. “When I talk to other music industry-related companies, they are like, ‘You do all of that?’ Yes, we do,” Smith said. “It makes it easier on the artist. We don’t have to outsource anything. We can do everything right here.”

As PWR has found a unique niche in the music industry and developed an extensive portfolio of music artists, Smith believes he will have no trouble drawing both artists and music fans to the Texan Theater.

“With all the venues for which we manage the entertainment, we’ve always envisioned expanding the entertainment promotions side and giving the artists another place to play. How do we create more for Cleveland? Cleveland doesn’t always have the best reputation, even in the music industry. People think it’s all about Conroe or Houston, but we are going to change that,” Smith said.

Smith is counting on Cleveland and East Montgomery County one day being recognized as a tremendous pool of musical talent.

The grand reopening of the new PWR Texan Theater will be on Nov. 5, 2022. The goal is to hold shows on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Show times are expected to be at 7 p.m. nightly with after-parties held at a local restaurant on Saturday nights.

“We are looking at putting in a Cleveland Comedy Night on Tuesdays. We even have local talent who can perform. Robby Koon, who owns Bailey’s Barbecue, and his brother do a hour-long comedy skit,” Smith said. Artist spotlight nights will be planned on the other nights.

“It will be a good time and it will be great for this area,” he said.

News of the change for the theater caught city leaders off guard this week. The theater has been a vital part of the community for generations. Cleveland Mayor Richard Boyett said he understands that a one-screen theater is no longer a money-making proposition.

“I wish it could stay a theater. I will be sad to see it go in another direction but I hope PWR has a lot of success with it. Hopefully they will offer shows that will be good for families. I wish them all the luck with it,” Boyett said.

Like many others, Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce Victoria Good has memories of going to the theater as a child with her parents and more recently taking her own children.

“I had my first kiss there. I am sure a lot of people did. Cleveland was blessed to have had an affordable theater in town, giving families and kids something to do for years and year. As the Chamber, it’s always sad to see any business close because we want all of our area businesses to succeed, but it will be cool to see this Cleveland treasure turn into a music venue for people to enjoy for even more years to come,” she said.

For more updates on their plans and to keep up with upcoming shows, follow PWR on Facebook.

Related article:

11 COMMENTS

  1. Its no coincidence that the Churches Chicken and CVS have also closed down in the same area in the past couple months, and the Moore furniture looks to be liquidating now. The real estate at the corners of Washington and Houston is just worth too much for businesses to not “sell out” to offers that they can’t refuse. The Cleveland Motel also got bought out and demolished for yet another car wash (whitewater express). You could say thst rising property values has made it too tempting not to sell out, and its also not helping that those property taxes are among the highest state compared to all the other counties, because we have to fund new schools for the developments near Plum Grove. The law requires that we give them free schooling, so what can we do? But anyway, the taxes also make it more appealing to sell.

    Anyway its a shame to see this, especially after the big fundraiser and effort we put in to fund renovations towards the end of Cliff Dunns tenure (“save the texan”). At least we kept it going for a little while longer. For those that haven’t checked Zillow lately, the D&M Diner real estate has been up for sale for a year now, just hasnt sold because they want 1.5 million. The house across tanner from it is about ve moved and something will be built on it.

    On a separate note, it feels like everything is getting replaced by insurance, car washes, taquerias, or vape shops, the kind of businesses that target low income towns. Clevelands median income is too low to pull in the Chipotles and Starbucks of the world is what I’ve heard. Grand Oaks might change that, but we will see.

    Remember the good times folks. Unfortunately I havent been around long enough to remember the drive-in picture where Performance Trucking currently is. Google Town Twin Drive-in Cleveland TX and you can read about it on the cinema treasures website.

  2. Drugs & Thugs
    CL SmithTexan Theater Posting on Facebook Claiming to be with “PWR” on 08/31/2022
    Posts; “yes some of these events will be family oriented”

    So in other words, what you plan to do is open a Night Club in Downtown Cleveland and bring in drugs and thugs to our little town. Do you plan to sell alcohol also?
    Well that’s just great. Will the churches and good people of this town stand for that?

    • The drugs and alcohol is already here! Hopefully it will be leaning more to family entertainment like at least one night gospel singings- oldies but goodies and easy listening. We will have to wait and see

  3. This news saddens and breaks my heart…even though the change maybe good the back meaning of the movie theater The Texan means more to me than a venue where children may or be permitted

  4. Cliff Dunn was like a father to me.
    My Dad did all of the plaster and stucco on that building, I still have pictures of my mom and grandpa on scaffolding in front of that theater.
    Mr. Dunn would flag my mom’s car down just to give us hugs and see how we were doing.
    I cried very hard when he passed away and even harder when I saw this post.
    That place was such a huge part of my life and I really hate to see it be turned in to anything other than what it is.
    It will be nice to see Cleveland have new business to generate income for the city but it’s still sad

  5. The new owners are not community friendly, they don’t care about Cleveland. This is just another thing taken away from the area youth. If Cleveland doesn’t invest in things for our youth to do they will go elsewhere for their entertainment and possibly get into trouble.

  6. I bought a house in Cleveland 13 years ago.. What saddens me is the “downtown” area of Cleveland looks so ratty and hasn’t improved in the time I’ve been there. Just wonder where our tax dollars go to. Looks like it’s all focused on Cleveland H.S. which is fine but for the taxes we pay we should be seeing alot more improvements. Another car wash is plain stupid. And how many accidents/deaths had to happen in front of the Ranch Hand Cafe before they added the center turn lane?

Leave a Reply to Cleveland Native Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.