Remember that sinking feeling you got when sitting down to a movie in the 60 year old seats at the Lantex Theater? Prepare for a surprise! The old seats are long gone, and 420 new seats have been installed.
Well, they aren't brand new. But they are like new. Tex Toler, Main Street Manager, wheeled and dealed for 800 theater style chairs from a high school in New York state. The lot cost $3500, in total, with shipping. With installation Toler estimates an end cost of about $12 each.
Financing for the project came from some big donors, several fund raisers, and many donations from movie patrons and citizens.
Of course, the Lantex doesn't need 800 seats. The end cost will be offset by the sale of 300 surplus chairs to a theater in Brady. The remainder will be stored against the need for future repairs and replacements.
The theater has undergone a near complete refurbishing. The floor has been painted to echo the ceiling. "It gives the building that 'new car' smell," says Toler. "And it's easier to clean. We've tried to give it the look of llanite – the form of granite only found in Llano County. And the lights – we want to go green, so the lights are energy efficient LEDs and fiber optics that look like old-style neon, reducing the volts we use and giving longer life and fewer repairs."
"Incidentally we use biodegradable cups at the concession stand which also store more efficiently. We've reduced litter with sanitary straw dispensers instead of individually wrapped straws."
"In the old days small town life centered on the theater. Before TV and the internet, it had the main entertainment as well as news from news reels, and was the focus of social life. It was the most lavish building in town. We want to bring back some of the magic. We're trying to restore the Lantex to some of that former glory, preserving its original look while modernizing the equipment and energy use."
They've rearranged the furniture as well. The aisles are ADA compliant, with spaces for wheelchairs up front and in back. The rows of seats have an elegant arc, with space in front of the stage apron, like an orchestra pit, for dancing, speakers giving presentations, or sellers. The seats are almost 2 inches wider than the old seats and the side aisles have four seats across, making group seating easier. And there are 82 seats in the balcony.
Volunteers have done all the work on the new seat project. Thanks to Rick Houston, Marilyn Hale, Cheryl Crabtree, Chris Slade, Don and Lisa Miller, Lynda Hallmark Gammage, Stanley Miller, Erin Green, Ian Fletcher, Damien Walker, and Tex Toler.
Refurbishing the theater began in May 2014 with the new digital projector. The recent activity involved cleaning in July, and painting in August. "We expect to be finished with this present phase by September 1."
Volunteers are still needed. All ages welcome.
Any further innovations planned? "The marquee needs fixing. And we're going to add cup holders to the seats. The people want cup holders."

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