The vision Marilyn and her theater co-owner and husband, Jerry, share for Texas Opry Theater is one where national, regional and local musicians can perform, providing unique entertainment for Parker County and area residents while being a tourism draw for the city and downtown.
“There is no other auditorium in Weatherford or Parker County that seats this many people,” Marilyn Carter said. “You have the school, a brand-new $100 million high school (auditorium) that seats over 2,000 people but taxpayers can’t use it.”
The Carters say with the economy and fuel prices, more people are looking for entertainment locally and they want to fill that niche, but said they need support from the community and the city.
Jerry Carter said when they purchased the property, which includes an adjoining office building, in 1992 the theater was in disrepair and within five weeks of demolition.
“I wasn’t going to let that happen,” he said. “I used to run up and down this street on my bicycle and I always thought, ‘That doesn’t need to be a church, that needs to be a theater.’ I never thought I’d own it.”
A church? Yes, the Texas Opry Theater was originally owned by a church, then York Avenue Baptist Church that is now Santa Fe Baptist Church. The church originally built the office building in the 1920s and then built the auditorium in 1946.
Marilyn Carter said the church used opaque glass blocks in the construction to allow light in, but to prevent church members to see the goings-on next door at a motel with a reputation as house of ill repute, popular especially with soldiers from Fort Wolters.
Texas Opry Theater has not only launched music careers, it has also helped launch a number of local churches and a community theater company who called it home after York Avenue outgrew the property.