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OAK CLIFF (CBSDFW.COM) – The historic Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff is working to repair flood and water damage caused by the heavy rains that hit North Texas in May and June.

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Mary Katherine McElroy, Operations Manager for the Texas Theatre, points to a leak in the roof as the likely starting point.

“We’d seen water damage up there before, but just assumed that was from forever ago – until we finally broke the drought and then we started saying, ‘Wait, that’s getting worse’,” said McElroy.

The Texas Theatre traces its roots back to 1931, as the first ‘suburban’ theater in the country with air conditioning. In 1963, it rose to the national spotlight as the location of Lee Harvey Oswald’s arrest.

The four story landmark on W. Jefferson Boulevard is registered on the national and state list of historic places.

Since that time, the theater has changed ownership and appearances. Today it is owned by the Oak Cliff Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to preserving its legacy for the future.

Aviation Cinemas operates the theater, showing films ranging from arthouse and indie, to first and second run titles. The Texas Theatre is also an integral part of local film festivals.

“The foundation’s a non-profit and they don’t have huge gross income beyond rent, which mostly covers basic expenses of just having an old building like this,” said McElroy.

McElroy stays busy with projects and renovations at the theater. Much of the original design is covered under layers of stucco installed in the 1960s after the Oswald sighting.

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“We had plans to get the carpet taken up, redo the bathroom floors, lots of things that needed doing for a while,” she says.

Priorities changed, she said, once the water damage was discovered.

The roof leak trickled down four stories to the ground level, causing the interior wall façade to bubble up and separate away from the concrete in some spots.

“We don’t know what the extent of the damage is,” McElroy said.

For the last few weeks, the Oak Cliff Foundation has quietly worked on fundraising, generating donations from family, friends and the community. Board members estimate it will take about $8,000 to cover the roof repair and a plumbing problem alone. They’re about a quarter of the way to realizing that goal.

“We want to do our due diligence and make sure that structurally everything is okay,” said McElroy.

Even with the hurdles, the theater remains open.

You can learn more about the Oak Cliff Foundation, and find a link to a donation page for the Texas Theatre here.

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