Crim Theater

The foundation of Kilgore’s Crim Theater is a bit more solid today following a cornerstone donation for future renovations at the historic property, more than $90,000 to help breathe new life into the South Kilgore Street edifice. 

The City of Kilgore owns the vintage Boomtown moviehouse and already has a stakeholder committee in place crafting plans for the revitalization of the 90-year-old structure. The volunteers now have their first major contribution to the effort in-hand thanks to the late Joseph and Viannah Wicki and their longtime beneficiaries, Kilgore Historical Preservation Foundation. 

According to KHPF Board President Chip Hale, Joe & Vi Wicki generously bequeathed a portion of their estate to the preservation foundation in addition to numerous other charities. The East Texas philanthropists died in 2004 and 2006, respectively, and ensured there would be seed money for the ‘Crim Theater Project’ as part of their legacy.

“The revitalization of historic Kilgore properties has been a major focus for our members and for the organization as a whole since its inception in 1987,” Hale said. “Thanks to the Wicki family, for more than 15 years we’ve had these substantial capital funds in our care, waiting for the right time to pour them into a Crim project. As stewards, our members carefully invested and protected the original bequest so it’s now worth $91,500. 

“With the city’s Crim project gaining steam, as of Feb. 14 we’ve officially added funds to the public coffers to be invested in renovations of this beautiful building, and we’re all excited to help as much as we can moving forward.” 

Mayor Ronnie Spradlin was one of KHPF’s founders in 1987 and has been a longtime volunteer and supporter for the organization in addition to his years of service with the City of Kilgore.

“Everyone’s realizing the Texan Theater is being utilized far more than anticipated and is a good anchor for downtown,” Spradlin said. “If we get the Crim back in use, there will be more events and entertainment going on at the same time. It changes the game.” 

The Crim Theater sits in the heart of the city’s Main Street District and in the center of its Downtown Entertainment District, a special zone about two-blocks to a side that eases key regulations (such as late-night noise restrictions) in order to facilitate the businesses and activities that inspire tourism and nightlife.

Past preservation efforts by KHPF and the City of Kilgore spared the building from major decay and restored its shining façade. Though the interior of the building remains inaccessible to the public due to asbestos and other hazards, recently the Art Deco face of the Crim has become a backdrop for numerous city activities, its porch transforming into a stage for events like Kilgore Oktoberfest. 

“Especially under Kilgore City Manager Josh Selleck, we’ve seen the city embrace opportunities for our downtown landmarks,” Hale said, “and make new ones. There’s more history in the making right now, and we’re all looking for local partners to help develop and achieve a common vision for the Crim.”

Phase I for the new Crim effort includes asbestos abatement and industrial cleaning, prepping the property for what will likely be a multi-million dollar revitalization across the coming years.

Nearby, the city owns both the Texan Theater and Old Post Office, buildings that also received life-saving TLC from Kilgore Historical Preservation Foundation and its donors in years past alongside recent efforts by REEL East Texas, which manages both venues for the City of Kilgore, which has been incrementally investing in and upgrading the Texan in recent years.

“Between KHPF, the city, and, now, REEL, those two buildings are primed for use, and we’re excited to see locals and visitors hosting great events in our historic properties,” said Hale, who is also executive director of REEL. “It’s an old dream of the various stakeholders that these three buildings become some form of multi-venue complex for the community, which would make Kilgore an attractive destination for more large-scale conventions, concerts and other events. 

“Through the generosity of people like Joe and Vi Wicki, across decades of dedicated volunteer efforts by KHPF members and many others, we’re able to move toward great things today. With leadership and support from City Hall, more great things are ahead for downtown Kilgore, and we’re all here to help make it happen.”

To schedule an event in either the Texan Theater or Kilgore’s Old Post Office, log on to Learn more about Kilgore Historical Preservation Foundation at Follow both organizations and the City of Kilgore on Facebook for ongoing updates about how to participate in the revitalization of the Crim Theater.