Hallettsville in Lavaca County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
At some time H.J. Heye from LaGrange also operated a saddle shop in the Speary Building. John Speary died in 1891 and in 1896 the building was leased to the New York Store. Various other businesses were located there prior to the Cole Theatre's move in 1929.
Cole Theatre's history began on the west side of the square. In 1926 Mart Cole owned a silent movie theatre known as the Cole Theatre located in the magnificent three story Opera House on the west side of the Courthouse square. Lillian McElroy was the manager and her sister Bunt (McElroy) Strole was the piano player.
Admission was 10 and 25 cents on Wednesday and Thursday and 15 and 35 cents on the weekend. Every Friday a $5.00 cash prize was given to the holder of the lucky number. For special attractions singer
In 1929, the theatre was moved to its present location on East Second Street and seated 700 people. The Spanish murals were painted by Cole's interior decorator, A.J. Schubert, a native of Hallettsville. Schubert designed elaborate theatre and stage props to promote theatre features for the entire Cole Theatre Circuit. The theatre was remodeled after the 1940 flood, in the 1960s and again after the flood of 1981.
During the depression and World War II, the theatre showed newsreels of world events. During the Allied Invasion of France, Second Street was closed in front of the theatre to accommodate the long lines. Patrons were kept comfortable with fans blowing over blocks of ice.
Among the theatre's managers were Lillian McElroy, D.P. Morton, Lilah Cole and Charlie Payne. Other employees who worked for the theatre were Louis Schott, Jr., Morrow Childress, Ben Linhart, Otto Koch, Milton Laake, Al Niebler, Bea Heinzel and Lydia Boethel.
In 1982 the Cole Theatre was sold to the Cozy Theatre Circuit, and in 1993 was purchased by Bill and Barbara Orsak.
Bill had always loved the theatre and worked as a projectionist in the Uptown and the old Victoria Theatre. The Cole Theatre had been closed for almost 18 months when he decided to see if he could make a go of the business. He then leased the theatre on July 31, 1992 and purchased it in 1993.
The Orsaks' son, Richard, now owns and operates the theatre and was instrumental in replacing the old speakers in the theatre with a new sound system including Dolby Digital and DTS Digital. New seats, screens, projector and lighted aisle carpet were added to update the old 200 seat theatre. The new Soundfold curtains cover the Spanish murals that still adorn the walls. Richard and Bill's Theatre background have made them successful in acquiring first-run features for Hallettsville, almost unheard of in small theatres.
Credit for the Cole Theatre history goes to local historical researchers Anne Rhodes and Dorothy Bujnoch, Gypsy Cole, Bobby Lee (Cole) Drozd, Mrs. Louis Schott, Jr. and Jordan Schott's research paper, "Life and Times of Lavaca County,” which was prepared during the Sesquicentennial Celebration.
Erected by Hallettsville Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Entertainment • Industry & Commerce. A significant historical date for this entry is July 31, 1992.
Location. 29° 26.734′ N, 96° 56.538′ W. Marker is in Hallettsville, Texas, in Lavaca County. Marker is on East 2nd Street east of North La Grange Street, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 207 E 2nd St, Hallettsville TX 77964, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Lavaca County Courthouse (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); 50th Anniversary of Battle of Galveston (about 300 feet away); Site of the Alma Male and Female Institute (about 500 feet away); First National Bank of Hallettsville (about 500 feet away); Hallettsville (about 600 feet away); First Baptist Church of Hallettsville (approx. 0.2 miles away); Sacred Heart Catholic Church (approx. 0.2 miles away); First Methodist Church of Hallettsville (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hallettsville.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 16, 2022. It was originally submitted on April 16, 2022, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 178 times since then and 68 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on April 16, 2022, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.