Really in Rosenberg
The Cole theater, named "The Liberty" when it was built, is located in Rosenberg, a small town outside of Houston. Founded in 1883, Rosenberg was typical of an old west town ... right out of the movies.
The rail head brought huge growth and soon Rosenberg became the center of activity for miles around. Among the many goods and service companies were small movie houses.
After the great hurricane of 1900, the entire town was demolished, but by 1912, it was rebuilt and again ....among the many rebuilt businesses were movie houses.
After 1915 and the release of "Birth of a Nation", a couple of local men, Mr. Felcman and Mr. Podlipny took notice of the constant and now growing movie business.
In the spring of 1919, they purchased a lot on Main Street and on August 16, 1919, the Liberty Theatre opened with the silent movie "Wanted for Murder" staring Elaine Hammerstein. Sixty four years later, the last regular movie played. In 1983, that 64 year run was the longest movie run in cinema history.
The building was purchased in 1937 by Mart Cole Sr. and he proceeded to raise the roof and add what is revered as classic art deco modern architecture to the face of the building as it remains today. Another architectural note is the floor is original. It also is sloped to grade that is 8' below street level and an orchestra pit that is another 6' and poured in concrete 3' thick. Considering the land was considered "swamp" and the Brazos flooded regularly for miles, thus providing excellent river sediment for farmers, the floor is an engineering feat of its own.
In addition to the many movies shown, there were concerts, community events and talent shows and stars ... big stars promoting everything from war bonds to their own movies. The theater had been on the very first distribution lists from the movie studios. Great stars like John Wayne, Tom Mix, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers to name a few all came to the theater and walked across the stage. Somewhere during the Second World War, Cole began to produce what eventually became the Rosenberg Opry.
At first it was a variety of music, in 1948 the Ink Spots were the headliners. By the late 70's regular weekly oprys became a staple of most of Ft. Bend county. In fact the name of the opry was the Ft. Bend Opry until changed to the Rosenberg Opry in 1998.
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