The Eldorado Building
In 1999, the Eldorado Ballroom was gifted to PRH. This building, which stands at the corner of Dowling and Elgin, defining the northern border of the community to many, was built in 1939 by renowned Houston architect Lenard Gabert. In its heyday, the Ballroom was host to countless blues and jazz performances as well as black social clubs, sock hops, and afternoon talent shows and was truly a staple of life in Houston’s Third Ward. It became known as a place where Houston-born musicians could hone their skills while internationally known musicians, such as Etta James, B.B. King, and Ray Charles, would stop in Houston just to play at the Ballroom as well.
In his book “Down in Houston,” Roger Wood recounts a quote by bandleader and trumpet player Calvin Owens, who recalled his first appearance with the band there under I.H. “Ike” Smalley and said, “Playing at the Eldorado Ballroom – I means that’s like saying: Okay, I’ve made it.” Owens was one of many musicians who would continually shape blues into jazz and then back into blues, a fusion Wood touts as a “crucial distinction of the Texas sound in modern black music.”
Unfortunately, the Eldorado Ballroom closed in the early 1970s, but since receiving the Ballroom, PRH has been working to make use of the space as best as possible in hopes of reviving the community spirit once housed there. While the bottom level of the building now houses incubation projects, like NuWaters Co-op, which provides organic, locally grown produce to people who live in a food dessert, the upstairs is still used to host community events, from talent shows to dance classes. PRH’s main effort to restore the Ballroom is Live at the Eldorado, a concert series where the proceeds go towards renovating the building and ultimately restoring the facade to maintain its legacy. In the past, musicians such as Milton Hopkins and Jewel Brown have taken to the stage.
If you would like to make a contribution towards the restoration and revitalization of the Eldorado Ballroom, please click the donate button below. Your donation is 100% tax-deductible.