The old building that looms over Houston Street and greets visitors as they come into town has been a number of things over the years, including a movie theater, office building and vacant eyesore.
After more than a decade of work, the building will be unveiled again as a community theater.
George West resident and theater-lover Mary Ann Pawlik has been one of several driving forces behind the decade of renovations that have taken place.
When asked how she felt about finally being about to have the theater opening again as a community theater, she said, “It feels so good.”
And the George West Walk of Fame was her idea. It was one of the many fundraisers that was held to raise the money necessary to re-open the building. The stars have been permanently placed in the sidewalk in front of the theater and are currently staying covered until the grand opening.
“It’s the point where we want to unveil the stars, and it’s time to say thank you to all those people,” Pawlik said.
She said the stars were purchased by people to pay tribute to residents both living and dead. Along with the stars, people also purchased “seats” (monetary donations of $100) and their names appear on plaques inside the lobby that will also be unveiled when the theater has its opening.
The latest of the money raised was used to purchase a number of important items needed for the theater including a stage curtain, stage lights and some of the sound equipment.
But those purchases were only a few of the many things that have had to be done to the building to get it to the point it is at now.
There has also been a new roof, asbestos abatement, bathrooms, drop ceilings, flooring, seating and carpet either repaired, replaced or purchased over the last decade.
The building was donated to the George West Storyfest Association in 2004 and, according to Pawlik, a committee was formed then to renovate the building. The committee has been working diligently since then.
While the renovations have taken a long time, Pawlik is proud to say that the building has been completed and that the group is debt free. The group has done lots of fundraisers over the years, and each time a fundraiser was completed, the money was used to finish one of the many projects. Once that money was gone, another fund-raiser was held. The group has also received several grants over the years.
Now that the theater is complete, it will truly serve the whole community, she said.
The school district has no auditorium, and Pawlik hopes the GWISD will be able to utilize the space for functions.
Throughout the renovation process, the doors have been opened for dance recitals, Christmas programs and various fundraisers, but now it will have more.
Pawlik has hopes of holding one function per month at the theater, with the first one being a production of “Our Town,” directed by Pawlik herself and starred in by members of the community, to open the first weekend in August.
While the theater is complete and ready to be open, there are still some minor aesthetic things that Pawlik would like to see done, including display cases hung in the lobby with J. Frank Dobie memorabilia in them. Pawlik said the group already has the memorabilia needed to raise the money for the display cases.
The group is also in the process of applying for 501(c)3 status to make it an independent operating non-profit organization.
Pawlik said there was a dedicated group of people who have really helped to make this theater renovation possible, including Lamon Bennett, Virginia Horton, Charlotte Schroeder and Glynis Strause.