From the Roaring 20s to today, check out this historic theater that’s been entertaining guests for over a century

Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 4:57 PM EDT
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For over 100 years, this historic destination has been entertaining East Texans, whether through the cinematic arts, or with laughs and cheers as performers grace the stage. The Historic Select Theater, run by the Lake Country Playhouse, always has something going on that’s worth the visit, and when we say always, we mean ALWAYS.

Originally built in 1920, the theater was called the Select to honor the Select Movie Company with Select movies playing at the theater. The theater started with Mr. & Mrs. Hooks as they wanted to provide Mineola with an experience like no other. By 1936, the Select theater was taken over by their son and later on in 1948, the theater underwent an art deco remodel which included a 40-foot tower with revolving neon lights. The tower became a beacon for Mineola and is the inspiration for the theater’s tagline, “If the tower’s a-glowing, something’s a-showin.”

“When this movie theater opened 1920, World War One had just ended. You had the Roaring Twenties and people were coming to see movies. But then you had a depression. You had hardship. You had World War Two. You had the unrest in the sixties, all the way up through the Gulf War and now COVID. The days we were closed in 2020,” said Lake Country Playhouse President Jeff D. Hurley. “During all of this time, this has been a place where you could come in and just a few dollars. You could escape from the world for just a little while.”

After Mr. Hooks Jr. passed away in 1964, the theater was sold to two long time employees, James Dear & Truman Thomas, who kept the theater going for many more decades to come. During the 1980′s is when the Lake Country Playhouse enters the picture, where in 1989 they took over operation of the theatre and as of 2004 are the owners of the Select Theater.

The Lake Country Playhouse is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Historic Select Theater for future generations. The organization wants to ensure that the theater remains a place where people can come together to enjoy the performing, visual, and cinematic arts.

The theater has not only been a place for moviegoers but has also served as a launchpad for many performers. Kacey Musgraves herself started at the theater, and the theater has hosted talent shows and Star Select Opries over the years that show off the different talents of East Texans.

A special treat to enjoy is also the .50 cent Tuesdays, whereas Hurley says, “You’ll see some weird stuff, but it’s only .50 cents!”

“When you step into a movie theater, you step into a different world,” said Lake Country Playhouse Secretary Randy Parrish. “When you come into a moving picture show, you’re transported to a different world. You leave the outside world and the outside troubles, outside, and you come in and you escape reality and you watch this show.”

Recently, the Lake Country Playhouse has expanded its offerings with the addition of the Lake Country Playhouse Second Stage, or The Annex Venue. The Second Stage will be able to host even more content like live game shows, live theater performances, and experimental shows, as well as concerts by small bands and singers.

View more about the special events that go on at the Historic Select & Lake Country Playhouse with their Halloween & Christmas events here.

The Historic Select Theater is located at 114 N Johnson St in Mineola.

Being a non-profit, the biggest way to help (besides going to see a movie or play, of course!) is to donate to help keep the theater going strong and continue to provide entertainment for the public and arts education for all those who come to be a part of the theater. You can learn more about donating here.

To keep up with the movies, live theater, and music you can enjoy at the Historic Select Theater and Lake Country Playhouse, you can visit their website, or check out their Facebook page.

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