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Historic Third Ward Music Venue To Return After $10M Renovation

Project Row Houses will renovate the historic Eldorado Ballroom, a Third Ward music venue that hosted legendary Black musicians for more than 30 years in the mid-20th century.

Eldorado Ballroom

Project Row Houses, a nonprofit community organization in the Third Ward, will spend $9.67M on the project, restoring the 10K SF building that has been damaged by two fires over the last decades. The organization is also adding a 5K SF annex.

When complete in 2023, the space will have a café and community market, a nonprofit art gallery and flex meeting space, according to Project Row Houses. The annex will provide space for more community gatherings, a green room, dressing rooms for weddings, an elevator and upgraded bathrooms. The original ballroom will host live music and events.  

Hines is leading the project, which will be designed by Stern and Bucek Architects and constructed by Forney Construction. The project is supported by local nonprofits the Kinder Foundation, Houston Endowment and the Brown Foundation, alongside the Project Row Houses' board of directors and other supporters, the organization says.  

"Our investment in the Third Ward and Project Row Houses remains long-term in focus and our support of Eldorado Ballroom recognizes its unique place in Third Ward and Houston history," Kinder Foundation Chairman Rich Kinder said in a release. "We are proud to support the effort to restore this jewel of the community and bring the building back to life, restoring a cultural resource and social center that will continue to have a meaningful impact on the neighborhood and its residents.” 

The project is co-chaired by philanthropist Anita Smith, Hines Vice Chairman Hasty Johnson and Chris Williams 

Eldorado Ballroom was founded by Anna Johnson Dupree and Clarence A. Dupree in 1939, and served as an acclaimed venue for Black musicians during segregation. The building, at 2310 Elgin St., hosted Louis Armstrong, James Brown, Little Richard, B.B. King, Ella Fitzgerald and more. The venue closed in the 1970s during a recession. It was given to Project Row Houses in 1999. Project Row Houses opened the venue briefly in 2003 for a fundraising event, raising $75K to help fund renovations it had been doing for four years.  

“The Eldorado Ballroom, from the moment its doors open, has always been the soul of the Third Ward," Project Row Houses Executive Director Eureka Gilkey said.

 "As creative placekeepers with a deep commitment to our neighborhood, Project Row Houses is as proud to be preserving the history of this storied venue as we are to be preparing it to serve as a center for Black art, culture, and community long into the future. We can't wait to celebrate with our friends, partners, and neighbors when the lights go down, the band hits the stage, and the 'Rado is reborn.”