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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

God Save the queen!

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It was on the crisp night of Nov. 21, 1939, when old and young flocked to the grand opening of The Queen Theater, itching to see starlet Ginger Rogers opposite Walter Connolly in the comedy of the day, Fifth Avenue Girl. Seventy-two years later, members of the Bryan-College Station community hope to fill the 550-seat theater once again, giving a new generation the chance to taste the vintage atmosphere that personifies the Queen Theater.
Advocates Dennis Goering and Ranall Spradley, the forces behind the Queen’s restoration, have been awarded a grant by the Bryan City Council to assist in the efforts. Improvements to the Queen are a costly sum and include at least $220,000 for repairs. But to these men, every penny is worth the effort.
“The real trick to the Queen isn’t the cost of the redevelopment; the trick is to successfully operate it as a theater,” Spradley said, as reported by The Eagle.
Luckily, Goering and Spradley aren’t alone in their efforts. Figures such as Bryan Mayor Jason Bienski and board chairman Ben Hardemen facilitate fundraising efforts to aid the Queen’s repairs.
“We, as the Downtown Bryan Association, don’t feel like The Queen Theater is ours,” Hardeman said, as reported by The Eagle. “It’s the community’s project. We’re just the facilitators.”
Cassidy Barton, executive director of the Downtown Bryan Association, works with the board of directors and volunteers to develop a plan for restoration and future plans to get the Queen up and running once more. Initially interested in volunteering with the Downtown Bryan revitalization effort, Barton found her passion through the efforts of restoring the Queen and strives to help others do the same.
“For the organization as a whole, my ultimate goal would be to facilitate Downtown Bryan’s development into a center of life, art and commerce that offers something for everyone and highlights the history, culture and diversity of our community,” Barton said.
Barton welcomes students to volunteer in raising funds through non-profit organizations such as “Save the Queen” or through hands-on fundraising. When Barton introduced junior communication major Morgan Burcham to the Queen, Burcham fell in love with the cause and efforts.
“I was in a group communication class and Cassidy Barton, the Downtown Bryan Association executive director, introduced us to the Queen,” Burcham said. “I loved what the Downtown Bryan Association was doing to restore the Queen and trying and keep the downtown historical.”
Burcham’s class went on to promote a Queen profit share at Chick-fil-A. This semester, Burcham works as an intern downtown, promoting different fundraisers throughout the semester to aid in the Queen’s restoration. She hopes fellow students will join in the efforts to preserve the historical aspects of Downtown Bryan.
“[Students] can attend events in downtown Bryan such as First Fridays or purchase a ‘Save the Queen’ T-shirt during any event downtown or anytime at the visitor center downtown,” Burcham said.
During First Fridays, fellow cultural advocates of the Bryan-College Station area come together every month to promote the arts in the Brazos Valley. First Friday events range from hands-on pottery throwing demonstrations to live music and fresh produce from the Farmers’ Market.
Here art lovers new and old experience the distinct flair of Downtown Bryan.
Linda Ezell, jewelry maker and owner of Timeless Designs, remembers attending the Queen Theater as a child and is thrilled to see the strong, revitalization efforts taking place.
“When I was young, we used to come downtown with Daddy and watch people go by in all the little stores,” she said. “Then it just died. People zoomed off to the mall. But today our new mayor is very interested in restoration and downtown Bryan has taken off in the recent years.”
The Queen continues to bring those young and old together for a common cause. Going 72 years strong, the members of the Brazos Valley see the Queen as a symbol of hope as they strive to bring back the distinct style that embodies Historic Downtown Bryan.

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