Three Rivers businesswoman Virginia Herring recently leased the Rialto building from the Three Rivers Economic Development Corporation (EDC). She and volunteers cleaned the building and made moderate renovations. The first day of operation for the Rialto Theatre under Herring’s management was Friday, Dec. 4. She showed “New Moon” on screen one and “2012” on screen two with “Planet 51” rotating on Saturday and Sunday.
The original Rialto Theatre opened its doors in Three Rivers in 1948. Three Rivers City Secretary Rosie Forehand said as far back as she can remember during the ’50s, the theatre was run by Joe Jones and his wife, “Jonesy.” After Jones’ wife died, he moved to Kerrville for a while and Jim Metcalf ran the theatre. The theatre had an agreement with Halls Concessions during those days. Following Metcalf’s supervision, the theatre was run by Alice Erler.
The theatre closed in 1981 and the Halls deeded the Rialto to the City of Three Rivers. Following that, it was sold to the Bennett family, who in turn sold it to Dr. Hector Chapa. Chapa was an alderman who started renovating the theatre from one screen with a balcony into a two screens, above and below. Before Chapa finished construction, he died and his wife sold the building to the Three Rivers EDC.
Forehand said, “The EDC purchased the theatre from Mrs. Chapa to give the citizens of Live Oak County a place to watch a movie without having to drive to Beeville or Corpus Christi.” Galan Jansky leased the building from the EDC and reopened the Rialto on June 22, 2001. The first two movies he showed were “Pearl Harbor” and “Dr. Doolittle 2.” The Rialto subsequently closed in September 2009 and reopened on Friday.
In addition to Herring, the new staff includes Tracy Garner, Melissa Kruse, Roderick Ross, Chris Martinez, Pat Kerr and Caitlyn O’Neal, plus several volunteers, including Suzanne Melchor. Donations of items such as tables and chairs were made by Rocky and Norma Teague, David Morton and David Brown.
Herring is a full-time employee at the lab of Valero Three Rivers refinery. She is also a partner of Creative Screen printing.