25th Street Theatre to be demolished to make way for fire station

Posted at 7:36 PM, Dec 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-13 20:54:50-05

While it's seen better days, the 25th Street Theatre is iconic.

The owner of Bertha's Bakery across the street has lived in the neighborhood surrounding the theatre for 40 years.

She remembers how lively the spot once was.

"It was beautiful when it was open," said Bertha Barrientos. "It's been here longer than my business."    

The 25th Street Theatre was popular when it first opened in 1945. Over the years, people started to lose interest, leading to its closure in the 90s.

It began to fall apart and in 2001 it was deemed unsafe for entry.

The Waco Fire Department is hoping to breath new life into 25th Street by making it the new home for Fire Station #6.

Deputy Chief Robby Bergerson said the current station is 78 years old, so it's time to build a new one.

"It's a good piece of property. It's in a good location and it's only five blocks away from the current location," Bergerson said. "So, it was the logical choice."

Bergerson said the original plan was to restore the theatre, but years of wear and tear has left it beyond repair. 

"It's just not salvageable, so we're hoping we can build a fire station with the likeness of the original structure and try to capture as much of the history as we can," Bergerson said. "Hopefully we can capture the essence of what the building meant to the community, but we're going to be good neighbors."

Barrientos has been looking at the theatre's boarded up windows for years.

"I'll be sad to see it go," Barrientos said. "I would love for them to renovate, but as long as the new station looks good, I'm happy."

Not everyone loves change, but Barrientos thinks the move will be good for her community.

"I'll welcome them in," Barrientos said. "They're going to help keep us safe."

Larry Holze, the spokesperson for the City of Waco, said demolition should start at the beginning of 2019. The groundbreaking should be summer of 2020.

The project's estimated cost is about $5.5 million.

Holze said the city will hold a public meeting once the demolition is complete to find out what residents would like to see in the new station's design.

We reached out to the Texas Museum of Theatre and Broadcast, a group that tried saving the theatre, for an interview. They declined to comment on the city's decision to demolish the theatre.

For more information on the 25th Street Theatre, click here

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