History of Jubilee Theatre

In 1994, Mission Waco was only two years old and “baby” non-profit trying to find its way to serve the poor of Waco. One of our earliest decisions was our most risky one, but one that has positively shaped our ministry for 18 years. After buying the old bar (“J.B.s”) next door, we approached the owner of the condemned old shopping center on N. 15th and Colcord Ave. to ask for a “deal” to purchase the property. Because the corner was controlled by drug dealers and prostitutes, he gladly signed the deed over to us without cost, glad to get rid of it and the headaches it brought.

With six “green-tagged” buildings requiring costly compliance with City of Waco building standards, a few volunteers and almost no money, we accepted the property and began to go to work. One of those six buildings was the former “Texas Theater,” where the many older Waco residents still alive today saw their first movie, paying $.09 for the thrill. But as the neighborhood deteriorated in the sixties, the old theater soon became a XXX porno theater called “The Capri.” Besides the moral filth and degradation, the theater represented how “evil” creeps in and destroys healthy neighborhoods.

With limited funds, Mission Waco was eventually able to re-open all six buildings offering everything from children’s programs to the first computer lab for the poor. Through the years, the renovated “Jubilee Center” became home to our offices, the Youth Center, a senior job-training program and the World Cup Café. Formerly written off as a “bad neighborhood,” today folks come from all Waco to eat, shop for “Fair Trade” items, grab a volunteer application and help with teens. It’s a whole new feel!

When the doors opened again for the Jubilee Theatre, we all celebrated. The old movie hall, which had been sitting in water and decay, was re-opened in 1995 to use for neighborhood programs, children’s talent shows, and special events. The 243 seat “Jube” has housed concerts of all kinds, creative dance, arts, a new church, a dramatic MLK play, community meetings, and much more.

Fifteen years later, the Jubilee Theatre was desperately ready for a “makeover.” Through the generosity of Christian Mission Concerns, musician David Crowder, The Greater Waco Council of the Arts, and several individuals, the facility was renovated in the Fall of 2010 with new curtains, a larger stage, new technology and access to the adjacent World Cup Café. It reopened in October at Mission Waco’s annual JUBILEE MUSIC FESTIVAL with an exciting venue of plays, dance, concerts, and activities for children, youth and adults.