Cole Theatre

930 3rd Street,
Rosenberg, TX 77471

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Cole Theaters Inc, Paramount Pictures Inc.

Architects: Ernest L. Shult

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: Liberty Theatre

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Cole Theatre

Named the Liberty Theatre when it was built, it is located in a little town just outside of Houston, Texas, called Rosenberg. Founded in 1883, it was typical of an old west town … right out of the movies.

The rail head brought untold 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. This was the work of architect Ernest L. Shult. Another architectural note is the floor is original. It also is slopped 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. By 1943 it was operated by Cole Theaters Inc. who at the at time were part of the Julius Gordon chain, a subsidiary of Paramount Pictures Inc.

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 theatre 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 theatre 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-1970’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.

Contributed by James Colburn

Recent comments (view all 32 comments)

James Colburn
James Colburn on October 10, 2007 at 11:35 am

Anything happening to this theatre? Anyone know anything?

kathy2trips on May 19, 2008 at 2:42 pm

Wow, LM, that 1920’s photo is awesome. The current photos show the facade can use some work. I hope they get a cool marquee with some neon. Really packs a punch in small town downtowns.

James Colburn
James Colburn on July 2, 2008 at 8:33 pm

I agree..bring back the old great neon marquees!

James Colburn
James Colburn on September 30, 2008 at 7:29 pm

Any news on this place? Is anyone doing anything with it?

James Colburn
James Colburn on October 1, 2009 at 7:40 am

Any news on this theater? Anything going on that yall can report?

James Colburn
James Colburn on February 3, 2010 at 12:47 pm

This is a great theater. I hope it makes it.

spocoho on March 17, 2011 at 1:36 pm

I would like to email sabear the relative of Mart Cole, Sr about the footage of John Wayne when he came to Rosenberg. I grew up there and my Mom said around 1950 he came into town with Ward Bond for a movie premier at the Cole Theatre. We were on the sidewalk and when they got out of the car they patted me on my head according to my Mom. Do you have that on the footage? Thanks on June 29, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Doesn’t appear to be anything new to report — photo from April 2011:

Danclements on July 1, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Anyone know the status of this theater and who I might be able to speak to in lever to get access to photograph the property?

Luis Vazquez
Luis Vazquez on July 3, 2019 at 3:52 pm

I was there on June 8th and there doesn’t appear to be anything new to report. The town doesn’t appear to be any better than it was 10 years ago, but also not worse. Not much going on here.

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