Fort Worth theater wins recognition as historic place



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Posted on January 12, 2012 at 2:23 AM

Ridglea Theater

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FORT WORTH — The Ridglea Theater on Fort Worth's west side  has evaded the wrecking ball and now is undergoing a major renovation.

Once in jeopardy of being torn down to make way for a bank, the theater on Camp Bowie Boulevard is now among the buildings listed on The National Register of Historic Places.

"They don't make buildings like this anymore," said Richard Van Zandt, as he looked high above inside the two-story theater that was built in 1950 as a movie palace on the city's west side.

For the past 13 years, however, the Ridglea has been a live music venue. But after changing hands, was in jeopardy of being demolished.

The news sparked a huge response from supporters who launched a petition drive to save the theater.

Van Zandt said about 10,000 people signed the petition at the height of the effort. Eventually, a local businessman named Jerry Shults bought the property and is behind the project to renovate the old theater, which was added to the National Register at the end of December.

"You love this place, and to find out it's going to be here after we're gone and preserved? You can't ask for more than that," Van Zandt said.

Renovations will likely cost up to $750,000 to complete. They hope to re-open the Ridglea by the middle of the year.