Culture / Entertainment

Iconic Texas Music Venue Set to Make Its Long-Awaited Return

Major Renovations Bring Back the Original Look

BY // 08.24.17
photography Courtesy of Longhorn Ballroom

The storied Longhorn Ballroom is making its grand return this September after undergoing major renovations the past several months.

The ballroom has a long and colorful history as one of Dallas’ most important musical venues. Built in 1950 for Texas country icon Bob Wills, the Longhorn Ballroom has hosted musical legends across genres and decades – from B.B. King to The Ramones to the Sex Pistols to Willie Nelson to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

However, the Longhorn had slipped off the city’s radar until a new owner took charge in February. Jay LaFrance purchased the property with plans to revive Longhorn Ballroom, which had only been used for small, private events for the prior decade.

Since LaFrance began the project, the building has undergone major restorations to achieve its original western look.

The deteriorating exterior has been freshened up with a new entrance and restored signage, including a fresh coat of paint on the namesake bull. Artist Stylle Read, who painted the stockyard murals, helped bring Texas flair to the exterior with larger-than-life murals of Bob Wills, Dewey Groom (the venue’s second owner), longhorns and more.

LaFrance has been diligent in paying homage to the building’s history.

The entrance of the ballroom is lined with tributes to legendary artists who’ve visited, and LaFrance has repurposed many original elements including chandeliers and reclaimed wood.

Newly restored, the Longhorn Ballroom will return in all its glory on September 9 for an event in collaboration with local charity Love for Kids. The organization’s 7th Annual Palette to Palette fundraiser will mark the venue’s official reopening for events.

The fundraiser has a Stetsons and Stilettos theme and a roster of Texas talent to bring country tunes. Artists including Cori Lynn, Erin Kinsley, Tommy Joe Wilson, Jason Ashley and Bradley Banning will grace the Longhorn’s long-neglected stage.

While a new crop of country artists takes the stage, the event will also feature a tribute to the Longhorn’s original star, Bob Wills.

Wills’ family will be in tow, along with the family of Dewey Groom, and the family of original owner, O.L. Nelms.

“It’s kind of a reunion for those people,” LaFrance tells PaperCity. “They’ve got great memories of this place and want to see it open again.”

The Longhorn Ballroom will kick off its new chapter on Saturday, September 9 from 7 p.m. to midnight.

Ninety percent of all funds raised at this event will go towards Love for Kids’ yearly events and community-based programs for providing underserved and high-risk children and for the chronically ill and in need senior community.

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