One of the coolest landmarks on 19th Street in the Heights, the historic Heights Theater, is currently for up for sale again.
For $1.9 million the property, located in the heart of the 19th Street shopping district, can be yours. The owners previously tested the market on the property about five years ago.
The building as of late has been a rentable event space, accommodating everything from weddings to art shows.
Built in 1925, according to the listing, the property is just over 7,000 square feet in size. It got an art deco overhaul in 1935, when its original mission-style façade was removed.
It remains the oldest surviving Houston movie theater still on its original site. It was also one of the first to include that most Houston of amenities, air-conditioning, which probably made it a hot ticket during its heyday.
A fire in 1969 gutted the insides, leaving just the outside walls. You can still see on the walls scorch marks from that blaze.
It is thought that it was the victim of arson after the theater showed one of the first mainstream XXX films, “I Am Curious (Yellow)” which was controversial upon release. There were also protests outside the theater around the time of the film’s release by groups looking to enforce decency on Heights residents.
The current owners, Sharon and Gus Kopriva, restored the location to its former glory when they purchased it in the late ‘80s. They even won an award for their work.
As of now the theater is not a protected historic landmark building.
"They purchased the building to preserve it. It had a tree growing in the middle of it when they bought it," says Star Massing with Boulevard Realty, which is handling the sale of the property.
You shouldn't worry about it being bulldozed (like so many other Houston landmarks) and turned into something new.
"Everyone who has expressed interest would like to keep it the way it is now," Massing says. Plans have also been batted around to construct an upper level terrace which would have a great view of downtown.
When the Koprivas bought the theater in 1987 it was a “bombed-out shell” that had a derelicts living inside it and no roof to speak of. It took a year of rehab on the $50,000 property to restore it to its former luster.
“My hope is that it will remain in cultural use, be it theater, art, or music,” says Gus Kopriva. He estimates that he’s spent close to half a million dollars on repairs the past 28 years.
The buyer will need to sign an agreement that the façade and marquee outside will stay the same and never be altered. It’s become part of local iconography on shirts and artwork.
“I think there would be trouble here if anyone wanted to change things,” says Kopriva.
That projector, located right inside the front doors, is the original one of two original ones from the theater, dating back to the ‘30s. They somehow survived that fire.
“One projector still had a print of “I Am Curious (Yellow)” still inside,” Kopriva says.