On day two of their roundabout trip to see the total solar eclipse in Kentucky, Meteorologist Zac Scott and Texas Today Reporter Jamie Kennedy stopped their RV at the Perot Theatre in Texarkana.
The historic building has been a landmark since its opening as the Saenger Theatre in 1924. It was later restored by the City of Texarkana, Texas in 1979. Former presidential candidate Ross Perot, a Texarkana native, and his sister Bette covered many of the restoration costs in memory of their parents -- leading the theater to be renamed in their honor. Total upgrade costs were estimated to be $2.4 million.
Right in front of the box office, Zac and Jamie stood on a dip in the marble, which had sunken slightly after decades of patrons waiting in line. During their tour, they saw carbon arc projectors, which used lamps to make images come alive when the theater was a movie house for Paramount -- after the company bought it in the 1930s. Paramount sold the building in the 70s.
The whole theater seats 1,542, and patrons can still see the balcony section and staircase that were used by African Americans during the segregation era decades ago. A single metal beam, hauled into Texarkana on the railroad and lifted with help from horses and pulleys, is strong enough to support the entire upper level. At the time of the theater's construction, it was the heaviest beam west of the Mississippi.
The city-owned facility is rented out throughout the year and hosts its own season of performances, too.