Heritage, Volume 10, Number 2, Spring 1992 Page: 30
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And The Lights Came On Again in Albany
A Texas Historical
Foundation grant of
$5,000 helps restore
1927 Aztec Theater in
Last fall, community leaders in Albany,
Texas, began looking for a place to stage
the Albany "Nativity," a lovely story of
Christ's birth told in dramatic presentation
by Albany citizens. They decided to
brighten the dark spot on their otherwise
restored Main Street.
The group acquired non-profit status as
the Aztec of Albany and set about to restore
the old 1927 movie house, the Aztec Theater,
vacant since the 1970s for this purpose.
"The Nativity" was written by the late playwright,
Robert E. Nail Jr., who also wrote
and directed the "Fort Griffin Fandangle," a
historical pageant presented outdoors, produced
and performed by Albany citizens
every year during the last two weekends in
June. "The Fandangle" has brought this west
central Texas town (population 1,975 and
located 35 miles northeast of Abilene) state
and national acclaim.
The old theater is structurally sound
and seemed an obvious place to utilize for
"The Nativity" and other cultural and civic
programs, as well. The building was made
available by members of the Tom
Brittingham family, Sally Wallace, and
Phase One of the work has been completed
at a cost of $85,000 and included
construction of a larger stage and restoration
of the exterior facade, doors, ticket
window, and lighting. In October of 1991,
In its efforts to support projects and
activities in education, research, archaeology,
and the preservation of Texas history,
the Texas Historical Foundation acts
as administrator of several preservation
Applications for those funds are available
from the Foundation, which adheres
to strict guidelines for all of the grants.
Workers give the Aztec Theater a coat of paint after the stucco repair is completed. Photo by Donnie Lucas.
the Jeanne R. Blocker Memorial Preservation
Fund of the Texas Historical Foundation
awarded a $5,000 grant to the Aztec
restoration. More than 100 local volunteers
helped cut initial costs by responding
to work day requests by the Aztec Board
and doing much of the site cleanup, removal
of the old stage, carpet cleaning, set
repair, and general interior cleaning. Rose
Construction of Abilene served as contractor,
and Amy Wingrove, architectural
intern under the supervision of Booziotis
and Company Architects of Dallas, developed
Phase Two will include the restoration
of the interior and construction of the
theater's dressing rooms and storage.
Fundraising for this work will begin in April.
An endowment of $200,000 has been given
by local rancher Watt R. Matthews to ensure
the building's upkeep once the restoration
On December 21 and 22,1991, the lights
of the Aztec Theater came on as cars once
again filled Main Street in Albany for four
evening performances of the Albany "Nativity."
The excellent acoustics of the old
theater coupled with the beautiful sets rebuilt
for the new stage by locals Kenneth
and Mary Evelyn Spurgin in triptych as in
the past, brought rave reviews from the full
Grants Available from THF
Grant applicants are expected to pro- time, and those awarded grants will be
vide information such as a current ex- expected to provide a full accounting of
emption letter from the Internal Rev- the use of the money for which they are
enue Service, bylaws and articles of in- applying.
corporation, an explanation of the Applications for preservation grants can
project, and detailed financial informa- be obtained from the Texas Historical
tion. Foundation, P.O. Box 50314, Austin,
Applicants should be advised that Texas 78763 or by phoning (512) 453smaller
requests are in order at the present 2154.
30 HERITAGE * SPRING 1992
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 10, Number 2, Spring 1992, periodical, Spring 1992; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45420/m1/30/: accessed July 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.