Popular arts venue 14 Pews, located at 800 Aurora St. just off Main Street, has been listed for sale. Its founder and Executive Director, Cressandra Thibodeaux, announced last week that she has accepted a job in Portland, Or., with a similar agency.
The 14 Pews building holds a place in Heights history. The front, theater portion was constructed in the 1920s and functioned as a church until the 1970s. The back half of the 2,589-square-foot building was added when the church sold, and now includes a separate but attached home with four bedrooms. It all sits on a 6,000-square-foot lot with an asking price of $615,000.
As a part of the larger arts community, 14 Pews has worked with many other nonprofits including Catastrophic Theatre, SWAMP, the Alley Theatre, and the Society for Performing Arts. The little facility’s contributions have been featured on several occasions in the New York Times and Texas Monthly. Whomever buys the property has reason to be proud of it.
“My hope for 14 Pews is that someone would get involved and retain it mission, but add music to its programming,” Thibodeaux stated. “The old building was a church for so many years, and I believe that its music lives on in the beautiful, old wood of the structure, in the heart of the space. I resisted that. Because my background is in film-making, we went in that direction, but music is in the building’s bones.”
Considered an asset to Houston’s arts community, 14 Pews currently operates as a multidisciplinary nonprofit agency. Since its inception in 2010, the organization has remained passionate about engaging local audiences through visual arts, film and theater, while celebrating and promoting Houston’s diversity.
The charming facility seats about 100 people and has presented more than 600 Independent films, participated in five film festivals, and hosted hundreds of cultural programs. The agency even created a play called “Dialogues on Grace” which has been used in high schools to provoke discussions on matters regarding of race.
Alfred Cervantes is Deputy Director of the Houston Film Commission, the agency charged with promoting Houston’s film industry and opportunities nation-wide and globally. The HFC was helpful in securing TV/cable series productions such as “My 600-Pound Life,” and The Little Couple,” as well as feature films such as “Boyhood.” Cervantes sings the praises of 14 Pews.
“For seven and a half years, Cressandra and her operation have been contributing to Houston’s arts and film-making community. Hopefully, someone will step up who has a similar vision to hers,” Cervantes stated.
Thibodeaux will soon move on to Portland and assume her new position as the Executive Director of the Alberta Abbey, an old church that has been converted into an arts center with two large stages and numerous creative tenants, all of which I s situated in the heart of the Alberta Arts District.
“I am excited about what the future holds, but I am also sad about leaving the city I call home. I really love Houston and 14 Pews is one of the best things that ever happened in my life. It brought me closer to my community, and myself,” Thibodeaux, concluded.