Tucked away at 219 East Central Avenue in Belton is a little movie theater called The Beltonian.
Not only is this small establishment a movie dinner house, but it also hosts entertainment such as comedians, clowns, sports games and talent shows. People can even rent the theater for birthday parties, fundraisers and political events.
The Beltonian’s history traces back to the 1900s when it was used as a church, billiard hall and an antique store. It closed in the 1970s only to be revamped later with surround sound, stadium seating and new decorations.
It was also a place for UMHB students to go where the movie was cheap (occasionally free) and the atmosphere was fun. Sadly, The Beltonian closed in 2008.
This past summer, Wesley A. Riddle and his wife Maria Aida Riddle bought the Beltonian and readied it again for business.
Manager Kelly Moran, who took over in December said, “I think they bought The Beltonian because they fell in love with the history of the building since it’s been here since the 1900s. They could see the theater had a lot of potential and couldn’t wait to restore the old artifact.”
Some compare the old theater to a more popular one, the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. Both theaters allow audience members to eat and watch movies at the same time.
Former employee and sophomore education major Aubrey Turner said, “The difference between the Alamo Drafthouse and The Beltonian is that The Beltonian has more of a personal feel to it. We (servers) were required to stick around the whole time in the theater in case anyone needed anything. Each table had a flag in the middle and if it was in the air that meant the guest needed something. If it was down, they were fine. We would also frequently talk to the guests and see how they were doing.”
The owners are trying to keep its old antique feel, but at the same time modernize the equipment and improve the food quality.
“We’ve made many changes to The Beltonian. During renovation we improved the snacks and dinner. We serve alcohol now,” Moran said. “We also renovated the audio and visual capability to the theater. Everything is 100 percent audio and digital video.”
Also in keeping with the historic character of the theater, The Beltonian has been showing classic movies such as Gone with the Wind.
The overall atmosphere creates a friendly, fun environment for both students and locals.
Turner said “Our uniform was western wear so we could keep that ‘Belton Texas’ sense. However, if it was kids night, we wore costumes.”
UMHB is looking to possibly coordinate with the theater for future events.
Assistant Director of Campus Activities Jeff Sutton said, “We are definitely not opposed to hosting a movie or event there.”
Many students are excited and willing to give The Beltonian a second chance since its re-opening.
Sophomore psychology major Hannah Saunders said, “If they advertise more, I’d love to go. I just want to be able to know what the events are.”
On the theater’s website, as well on the marquee, is a list of upcoming events and shows. The more interest in The Beltonian, the more movies and events they will host.
Moran said “Most events we have are on the weekend, but we are always open to scheduling events and showing new movies. On Mondays, we have open mike night, also called Belton’s Got Talent.”