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2010 - Volume 1 Issue 1
¡Comidas Sabroso!
Let's Go Out
Article: Charlotte Tallman
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Rio Grande Theatre

The Rio Grande Theatre, renovated and reopened in 2005, offers a rich history and a variety of performance venues under the management of the Doña Ana Arts Council (DAAC).

Completely refurbished, and the only remaining two-story adobe theatre in the country, the Rio Grande Theatre is a 422-seat, state-of-the-art performing arts facility with a 40-foot fly loft, dressing rooms, digital projector, sound and lighting equipment, acoustical panels, refrigerated air, a refurbished lobby and gallery spaces in the heart of downtown Las Cruces. The theatre also houses the DAAC, is used for DAAC-sponsored events and is rented by other groups for performances.

The theatre was built by C. T. Seale and B. G. Dyne in 1926, and became a popular community gathering place with the opening of the silent film, “Mare Nostrum.” The Rio Grande Theatre remained under the ownership of the Seale and Dyne families until Jan Clute and Carolyn Muggenburg, granddaughters of C. T. Seale, gifted their portion of the theatre to the DAAC in 1998, and later that year, DAAC became sole owner of the property.


Rio Grande Theatre
211 N Downtown Mall
Las Cruces, NM

The Plaza Theatre Performing Arts Center
125 Pioneer Plaza
El Paso, TX

Spencer Theater for
the Performing Arts

108 Spencer Rd.
Alto, NM 88312
The Plaza Theatre Performing Arts Center

When the Plaza Theatre opened September 12, 1930, it was in the center of a thriving city with a population of 100,000. Designed as a modern film house with the flexibility of presenting stage shows, the elaborate building was designed in Spanish Colonial Revival style of architecture and the interior was created with intricately painted ceilings, mosaic-tiled floors, decorative metal railings and sconces and antique furnishings.

An impressive addition to the theatre is a $60,000 Mighty Wurlitzer Organ, elevating from the orchestra pit to accompany vaudeville shows, sing-a-longs and to entertain patrons before and after films. In 1972, the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ was sold and housed at the home of a private collector in Dallas, but the late Karl O. Wyler, Sr. returned the organ to El Paso in 1998. After a long run at Sunland Park Mall, the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ is back in its original home in the majestic Plaza Theatre.

In 1986, after years of infrequent programming, the decision was made to demolish the Plaza Theatre in order to make way for a parking lot. Spurred by a groundswell of community support, El Paso Community Foundation began negotiations to raise the required $1 million to save it from demolition. With only six short weeks to raise the funds, fundraising events were held across the community and enough money was raised to save the Plaza Theatre. After El Paso Community Foundation placed a new roof on the theater, the Plaza Theatre was donated to the City of El Paso in 1990.

In 2002 the City of El Paso formally approved a public/private partnership with the El Paso Community Foundation to restore the Plaza Theatre to its original splendor.

Spencer Theater

Dow-Jones heiress Jackie Spencer and her husband, Dr. A. N. Spencer opened the Spencer Theater in 1997 with impeccable taste, ultra sophisticated standards and help from a renowned designer and artist.

The indoor theater seats 514, but an excess of 1,200 guests can be accommodated via the 964-sq. ft. outdoor stage. A variety of touring concerts, shows, plays, dance companies, family and children’s shows make up the year-round agenda which is broken into summer and winter seasons.

Antoine Predock designed the theater with a sparkling Crystal Lobby (created with 300 glass panes each cut to a different size) and 450 tons of Spanish mica-flecked limestone to construct the theater’s waterfall.

Dale Chihuly, who has revolutionized glass blowing, finding his way into the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and even the homes of Queen Elizabeth II, the presidents of Italy and France and the White House to name only a few, provided the interior décor for the lobby.

The Spencer Theater has several of Chihuly’s individual installations that captivate at first sight, including the Glowing Sunset Tower made up of 564 separate components. This 1,200 pound, 14-foot structure glows with striking colors of fiery oranges and reds. Other installments include Indian Paint Brushes, The Persians, The Ruby Sea Garden and Chandelier and Cobalt Blue Baskets, which were a gift from Dale Chihuly to the late Jackie Spencer. ///
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