In January 2018, The Leader reported that popular arts venue, 14 Pews, located at 800 Aurora St. in the Heights, was for sale.
But there has been a change of heart, and the property was removed from all listings. Not only will this unique artist’s space continue to host art shows and productions, but will expand its repertoire in the near future.
There was an outpouring from the community regarding the news of a sale. The response was so moving, that the nonprofit agency’s founder, Cressandra Thibodeaux, who had decided to relocate to Portland, OR., “came to her senses,” she says.
Thibodeaux realized that she was abandoning an effort − and a community − she loved dearly.
“I feel like I’m going through a mid-life crisis, but instead of having an affair, or buying a sports car, I decided to close 14 Pews, only to fall back in love with her all over again,“ Thibodeaux stated.
“When I left Houston, I realized I had been taking this wonderful city for granted. I thought I knew her, and there were no more discoveries to be made. When I got to Portland, I realized I’d abandoned a remarkable arts effort, the best listening room in Texas,” she said. “I quickly moved to undo that.”
In that reversal, Thibodeaux may have saved the area from the loss of a historical treasure and the addition of more condominiums. There was no stipulation on the sale dictating the use of the land, and the building holds a place in Heights history. The front, or theater portion of 14 Pews, was constructed in the 1920s and functioned as a church until it sold in the 1970s. The back half of the 2,589-square-foot building was added at that time, and includes an attached home. Both sit on a 6,000-square-foot lot, making it attractive to developers.
The arts venue also enjoys a solid following. Since its inception in 2010, 14 Pews has been engaging audiences through visual arts, film and theater. The facility seats 100 people, has presented 600 Independent films, participated in five film festivals, and hosted hundreds of cultural programs. According to Thibodeaux, 14 Pews will continue to offer its one-of-a-kind programming, but add activities that are more “approachable.”
“Song resonated in these old walls for decades when it was a church. I believe that music lives on in the beautiful, old wood, so I have reached out to Houstonians who will help curate a monthly music series too,” Thibodeaux explained. “We will also incorporate new film series such as ‘B-Movie Bingo’ and ‘Kung-Fu Fridays’ which will include karaoke.”
“I am re-committing to 14 Pews with a new-found fire in my belly, partially fueled by the amazing support I’ve received from my community and board,” she stated, smiling. “It feels wonderful to be home.”