Texas over Time: Waco Hippodrome Theatre

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of GIFs that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, changing aerial views, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.

We’ve got something a little different for you this month. These images were shot in Texas, but feature promotional movie displays that were probably seen across the country. Our images are from the Waco Hippodrome Theatre in the 1920s-1930s. Check out some of the elaborate productions enticing visitors to these early films.

Waco Hippodrome movie promotional displays

  • The Hippodrome, first operated and constructed by Earl Henry Husley, began as a road show house known as “Hulsey’s Hipp” and offered major vaudeville attractions and movies. Construction for the theater house began in 1913 and opened on February 7, 1914.
  • For a whole ten cents, or a quarter for box seats, the opening night featured a live seal act, a five-piece orchestra, and a magic act.
  • An affiliate of Paramount, the Hippodrome served as a silent movie theater until a fire started in the projection and destroyed the front of the building in 1928. The renovations resulted in the Spanish Colonial Revival style that still remains today.

Waco Hippodrome movie promotional displays

  • Under new management, its name was changed to Waco Theater and attracted many celebrities to Waco, including Elvis Presley (as a moviegoer) and John Wayne. More than 10,000 people gathered to see Wayne’s promotion.
  • The Junior League of Waco and the Cooper Foundation helped revitalize the theater (which had suffered from competition from suburban theaters) in 1987. The Waco Performing Arts Company operated it till 2010.
  • After much change throughout its lifetime, the Hippodrome reopened in 2014 and now offers first-release films as well as live theater, concerts, and other entertainment (and dining).


George, Mary Helen. “1910-1919 Skyscrapers & Beyond.” Waco Heritage & History 28 (Summer 1999): 45. N.p., n.d. Web. Print.

Warren, Jennifer. “Waco Hippodrome Theatre.” Cinema Treasures. Cinema Treasures, LLC, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2015.

See all of the images in our Flickr set. GIFs and factoids prepared by Haley Rodriguez, archives student assistant, and Amanda Norman, university archivist.

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