Local News

Aug 6, 2014 5:35 PM by Caroline Flores

Melba Theater to be Torn Down

CORPUS CHRISTI - A piece of Coastal Bend history is set to be torn down. But some believe its demolitions isn't a bad thing.

The Melba Theater on Leopard is an old building that's falling apart. But it wasn't always like that, back in the late 20s and early 30s the Melba theater was a place for folks to see Vaudeville shows, orchestras, and movies.

What many don't know is that the building served during a dark time in Hispanic history. Texas A&M Corpus Christi student Ken Anthony did extensive research on the theater during his time at the university. That research information was shared with Professor Anthony Quiroz, who spoke to KRIS 6 News about the building's signifigance.

"It primarily catered to Mexican American audiences, because Mexican Americans were segregated at the time," said TAMUCC History Professor Dr. Anthony Quiroz.

During that time Hispanics were not allowed to sit in normal theaters, so the owners of the Melba began showing films that catered to Hispanics.

"Now these folks have a place to go that's all their own, that shows Spanish language films, that shows films from Mexico. Sort of nurtures a since of cultural pride," said Dr. Quiroz.

Dr. Quiroz says the theater was shut down in the 40s. The building stopped being used in the early 80s. Now, it's past any type of rehabilitation.

"So it's not the highest and best use of the building to be sitting there vacant, um, and not be of any use to anyone," said the Chairman Uptown Neighborhood Initiative Darlene Gregory.

So Thursday morning it's set to come down. While this is a historic building, Dr. Quiroz says demolition isn't such a bad thing.

"It marks the end of an era. Which is in a way sad, but in another way it's a good thing because it marks the end of segregation," said Dr. Quiroz.

There are no plans for the property after the theater is torn down. The hope is a commercial developer will buy the lot.

During the demolition Thursday and Friday, Leopard street will be closed between between Artesian and Waco street.

The Uptown Neighborhood Initiative is spear heading the demolition. Their goal is to bring Uptown Corpus Christi back to it's former glory. If you would like to learn more about the group, you can visit their website at www.unicorpus.com.

Photos by Doc McGregor courtesy of the Corpus Christi Library

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