Downtown Castroville theater reopens after nearly 50 years

The landmark restoration could provide an economic boost to the historic town.

The Rainbow Theater has undergone an extensive renovation and reopened on July 15. (The Elsass, Elsass via San Antonio Business Journal)

SAN ANTONIO – A movie theater that opened in 1943 in downtown Castroville and showed its last films nearly 50 years ago has a second life.

Thanks to an effort by community leaders, the Rainbow Theater, which has undergone an extensive renovation and reopened on July 15.

“I have dreamt of seeing this theater reopen since I was 6 years old,” said Clay Binford, project leader for The Elsass, a group of more than 50 families working to restore and reactivate downtown Castroville.

The Rainbow Theater still has its original neon sign, one of the first of its kind in the country, according to Castroville leaders. At one point, it housed an exercise studio and later an antique store and thrift shop.

Josh Kempf, a founding partner in The Elsass, told me nearly two years ago that the group was working to secure and save several key downtown buildings and to find entrepreneurs interested in revitalizing them. Last September, he said stakeholders were making significant progress, pointing to the theater restoration as an example.

In addition to the Rainbow Theater, the investor group has bought or built 10 buildings in Castroville’s downtown. The additions include new restaurant Blu Lacy Smokehouse. The group also owns and operates Elsass Hall, an event venue housed in one of the oldest buildings in Castroville.

Castroville leaders never gave up their quest to bring the theater back to life. Fittingly, the first movie to be shown on its screen after going dark for so long is the latest “Mission Impossible” release.

Read the full story on the San Antonio Business Journal.

Editor’s note: This story was published through a partnership between KSAT and the San Antonio Business Journal.