On the evening of January 6, 1942, just a month after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Brauntex Movie Theatre opened its doors as the “modern theatre in the beauty spot of Texas.” The theatre initially shut down at the start of the war, but reopened to serve as a means for updates on America’s involvement in the war through weekly news reels. On that opening night, however, projectionist Walter Braune sparked up the rectifiers in the projector to screen “BIRTH OF THE BLUES”, starring Bing Crosby and Mary Martin for 30 cents admission. The Brauntex remained open for 56 years before it was expanded in 1972 when the balcony was sealed off and the Brauntex “Mini” was created upstairs. Florie Busch sold tickets, worked the concession stand and was interim manager during her 44 years of service. Sadly, the Brauntex Theatre could not compete with the new state of the art mega-plex/multi-screen theatres that were becoming the trend. The movie theatre steadily declined from its beauty and smartly dressed ushers to smoke-filled air, dirty and broken seats which resulted in a drastically diminished audience. The Brauntex Movie Theatre was destined for the wrecking ball.
In 1998, a group of concerned citizens recognized that the historic Brauntex Theatre could fulfill the need for a performing arts theatre for the growing community of New Braunfels. Several community leaders, including representatives of various arts groups, formed the Brauntex Performing Arts Theatre Association, purchased the closed theatre on December 10, 1999 and were granted their 501 (c)3 non-profit status. The Association identified and targeted the community’s cultural and educational needs, which then led the way for the Brauntex Theatre to rise up and meet the many challenges for success.
Money was raised, drawings were completed and work began. One of the first tasks was to enlarge the stage, followed by the restoration of the previously closed off balcony. The screen and walls were removed to provide the view of the stage from all areas of the theatre and dressing rooms were added behind the stage. The Box Office and larger lobby bathrooms were also added. The leaky roof was replaced and the auditorium ceiling, walls and lights were renovated. The Association had a great deal of local assistance in the demolition, cleanup and reconstruction. In 2008, the Texas Historical Commission awarded the Brauntex a spot in the National Register of Historic Places.