Decatur, TX has a great town square–one of my favorite things in visiting new places. I actually stopped off to photograph the New Deal post office and got caught up on the beautiful square. As I was heading back to the car in the sweltering triple digit heat, I glanced over to see the Majestic sign. It turns out that it is a replica made in 2016. The building is no longer in use as a theatre, but it still has a fascinating history.
The original Majestic was established in 1908 and located off the square on N. Trinity. Willie Cooper was the phonograph player, Will Terrell the singer, and the “moving picture machine” was operated by Edward Blythe (Decatur Wise County Messenger, Dec. 17, 1908, p. 5).
The Majestic moving picture show continues to draw big crowds. The program is completely changed 3 times a week, with special mattinee [sic] Saturday afternoons. Admission only 10 cents. (Decatur Wise County Messenger, Jan. 28, 1909, p. 5)
The Majestic moved to North State Street in 1914 and featured “electric lights and fans as well as state of the art Edison and Powers projectors…” (Decatur Town Square Newsletter, March 2018). Following a fire in 1917 that destroyed some of the block, the Majestic re-opened in the current location at least by 1919.
The 2016 item about the replicated sign and marquis indicated the Majestic was “around from 1917 through the 30s or 40s”. The Majestic was operated as a theatre until 1950 when the stage, screen, cold air ducts, balcony, projection booth, insulation, and light fixtures were all removed to renovate for a new business, following a vacancy of several years. It served as the local Eisenhower campaign headquarters in 1952, and the seats were sold in 1953.
The front of the building will be modernized. (Wise County Messenger, Jul 22, 1954, p. 7)
Although the Wise County Tax Appraisal indicated the year built was 1937, that is clearly not the year of construction. You can readily determine the building above is the same as the photographs, albeit with the “modernized” storefront. It was repainted in 1929. In 1935, Mrs. Blythe sold the theatre and it was remodeled and then re-opened in 1935 following installation of new equipment .
The c. 1920s photograph also shows the building. The automobile models and presence of horses and buggies on the unpaved square indicate an earlier date for the building than 1937. The buildings currently retain the same basic building style as pictured above, as does most of the downtown Decatur Square.