After six months of hard work, the caretakers of the old Wigwam Theatre say the building is just about ready for it’s close up – as a musuem.
Henry Flores, and a group of dedicated friends, spent the better part of late spring and summer removing decades-old plaster, sifting through several feet of ash and generally giving the century-plus old saloon-turned-theater-turned-store a new lease on life.
First built in the 1880’s, the saloon and theater was to undergo a remodel and expansion project overseen by famed local architecture firm Trost & Trost in 1912.
But by November of that same year, the remodeling became a full renovation, with the building completely redone from basement to banister.
With ornate tiles and stone work, the Wigwam operated as a theater and kept on showing movies all the way through to the mid-70’s, when it was then known as the State Theater.
When the curtain finally fell, it was converted into different retail spaces.
Now, each portion of the theatre will represent a different phase in the progression of the building from the 1880’s saloon, to brothel, to the transition to Wigwam/State Theatre.
Henry Flores, President of the Wigwam Museum, proudly shows off his new baby, but adds the work is far from done. His hope is that El Paso residents will donate more artifacts for display at the new museum; as it is as much a reflection of the community’s growth, as it is the people who helped the city grow.
“We’ve got artifacts, bottles, posters, pictures, floor displays and plenty of space,” Flores says with a sweeping gesture, “but what we really need is more – more help from the community in getting the items they have stashed away displayed as part of the history of El Paso.”
In addition to community members donating items, Flores invites them to donate funds to the museum itself, via a page he has set up for the Paso Del Norte Paranormal Society, Inc (Ghosts915). The group is a 501 C3 Non-Profit Organization that helps promote local tourism and historical preservation.