Throwback Thursday: Majestic history, story behind birds that call historic theatre home

Majestic opened in June 1929

By RJ Marquez - Digital Content Curator, Andrew Wilson - Digital Producer

SAN ANTONIO - Walk into the Majestic Theatre in downtown San Antonio and you immediately feel as though you’ve entered a magical place.

The Majestic opened in June 1929 as the first atmospheric theater in San Antonio.

“It opened as a movie house with Foxton movies presenting follies,” said Justin Sullivan, customer experience director at Majestic.

Architect John Eberson wanted to give guests an escape from their lives and daily routine.

“The whole concept of an atmospheric theater is to give you this sense of being outdoors and this sense of place and no place at the same time,” said Sullivan.

The Majestic was celebrated as one of the premiere venues across the country. It was also the first theater in the state to be completely air-conditioned. Advertising for the Majestic logo also included icicles.

“On this June summer day, you can see folks lining up on Houston Street with mink coats, fur coats,” said Sullivan.

The Majestic went through several changes throughout the decades. It was renovated in 1989 with the hope that it would become a place for live performances.

Thirty years later, the Majestic has achieved that goal while keeping the charm that took people to an enchanted place years ago.

Theater features include an iconic marquee and fixtures in the auditorium.

Giant peacocks, created by a taxidermist, overlook the stage and birds are perched on balconies.

More than two dozen birds are located inside the theater. They give the feel of being in forest or the woods.

Sullivan said that after Eberson completed the theater, he gave the manager a bag of bird seed for good luck.

The stage and behind the scenes is where the magic has happened over decades.

“Every artist that has come to the Majestic Theater (left their mark) in the form of a mural, or they have signed the walls down there. That’s one of the coolest parts of the theater to see,” said Sullivan.

The Majestic recently introduced its happy hour tours for guests to go backstage and to showcase the theater as a staple of San Antonio.

“It’s led by our tour guides, who have really invested a significant amount of time unearthing of the venue and space,” Sullivan said.

The Majestic celebrates its 90th year this year and shows no signs of slowing down with "Aladdin" scheduled in the future, and the return of "Miss Saigon," which was the first Broadway show presented at the theater in 1997.

“The amount of time and effort that had to go into making this place, what it is today and still goes into making this beautiful venue is breathtaking on so many levels,” said Sullivan.

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