life of the Pines Theater began on September 9, 1925. Following
speeches from local prominent businessmen E.L. Kurth, Kester Denman,
I.A. Coston, and I.D. Fairchild, movie-goers were treated to the
theater's first movie, "Coast of Folly", starring Gloria Swanson.
Organ music was provided by Willie Frazier, who also sold tickets at
the theater. The average cost of an afternoon spent in the cool dark
enjoying a movie was about 25 cents. The Lufkin Amusement Company,
later became East Texas Theaters, was the first owner and the first
manager was Non Binion. Throughout its life, the theater was the
cityís entertainment center, a downtown landmark where thousands of
people from the area spent an afternoon together, chasing bad guys
with Roy Rogers, experiencing epics like Gone with the Wind and
Giant, or watching out for a great white shark. Although there were
other theaters in the downtown district, the Pines was the premiere
theatre and, ďThe Place To BeĒ.
In 1981, the Pinesí last Manager, Ray Pike, had the facility
refurbished. These were to be the last updates to the theater until
it was sold by owner Elliot Cavanaugh in 1984, at which time it was
used as a house of worship for the Covenant of Love Outreach. The
theater was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places in
1988. It continued as a church until approximately 2005 and then
remained vacant until 2007, when the City of Lufkin purchased the
When city officials entered the building for the first time, it was
discovered that the roof had collapsed and standing water had collected
in the orchestra pit area in the main auditorium. A pump system was
set up to remove all the standing water and the failing roof was
replaced to stop the water from causing further damage. The theater
seating was removed and cleanup of the filth, mold, and odor caused
by the water began. An additional French drain was constructed in
the theaterís boiler room and the orchestra pit area in the front of
the stage was filled in with concrete to eliminate ground water
seepage. During this time, a truck struck and had badly
damaged the marquee of the theater. It was decided to have the
marquee repaired and bring the front of the Pines back to life. The
City spent several months replacing Neon, cleaning tiles, reworking
the sidewalk and installing bollards to prevent the repaired and
refurbished marquee from being damaged again. Over the next three
years, the city consulted with a community advisory group and other
similar facilities across the state and developed plans for
demolition, construction and design. After extensive research and
input, the interior was demolished and reconstruction began.
Plumbing and electrical work were some of the first upgrades,
followed by the removal of walls throughout the facility.
historical surprises were discovered as crews worked on the theater.
For instance, arch brick work that apparently was part of the
theaterís original design was discovered following the removal of
the main auditorium walls. Further, as crews removed sections of
concrete flooring to install new plumbing and electrical work, a
staircase which may have gone to a coal bin was also discovered. The
Theaterís new duct work for heating and cooling was completed and a
new mechanical room was installed.
projectors and supporting equipment were removed from the theater and refurbished by city employees. The projectors
were then returned to the reconstructed projector room and are on
display to the public.
Visitors can now get a look at what once may have been considered
the heart of the theater through a large window added to back of the
Scaffolding was erected that created a complete walking platform
which allowed workers easier access to install new ceiling in the
auditorium. The arch work discovered during demolition was cleaned
and sealed and acoustical material was placed between to add both
beauty and sound functionality.
Because the theater has been redesigned as a multi-purpose facility,
some new areas were developed. An additional staircase and a
reception platform were installed in what was once an adjoining
clothing store. Also, in the main auditorium, a concrete platform
serves not only as a place for the sound and lighting technicians,
but also provides room to place tables and chairs as an additional
Stage lighting and professional sound equipment were put in along
with a new projection screen. The Dressing Rooms were completely
refurbished and Green Room facilities were added behind the stage
area to provide preparation areas for the variety of entertainment
performers that will appear at the Pines.
The entrance, or concession area, has been refurbished to
accommodate a variety of functions. All of the new restroom
facilities and most of the building itself has been made accessible
for those with disabilities. Office space, a mechanical room, and additional
restrooms are part of the upstairs area, along with the Projector
Room Display area and balcony seating.
Theater seating was one of the last major items to be placed within
the auditorium area.
Although it has many modern upgrades, the art-deco charm and beauty
of the original Pines Theater has been brought back to life.
Following years of community input, staff research,
demolition and reconstruction The Pines Theater is once again the focus and
heart of the flourishing downtown district.