UMHB alumnus brings new life to downtown theater

The Beltonian Theatre, originally built in the 1920s, will reopen for audiences to enjoy classic films Friday, Nov. 3. Because the new owner of the renovated theater is owned by UMHB alumnus, Zechariah Baker, it will accept Cru cash.

Rick Rainer from Jackson Sign and Lighting in Waco adjusts the lights on The Beltonian’s marquee.
Photo by Madeline Oden/The Bells

Baker, who graduated from the university in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in music, bought the theater three weeks ago.
“I’ve wanted to open my own business since I was a kid,” he said. “About three or four years ago, I was managing a movie theater, and I saw the Beltonian was for sale. I started saving and planning. Everything fell the right way a couple of months ago.”
The Beltonian, located at 219 E. Central Ave, boasts a 150-seat screening room complete with a small stage. Baker hopes to show classic films, UMHB games and other sporting events, and silent films. He will also be bringing in local artists.
“A lot of these old classic movies are films that people saw when they grew up and now can only watch at home,” Baker said. “Now, they’ll be able to see quality classics on a big screen again in a great theater that has a long history in Belton.”
Central Texas native and country singer Jenna McDaniel will kick-off opening weekend with a concert from 7 to 9 p.m on Friday, Nov. 3.
Then Baker will play The Magnificent Seven (1969) starring Yul Brynner, Steven McQueen and Charles Bronson.
The theatre will be open on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Baker also plans to keep the theatre open every day during the summer months. Tickets will be $3.99 apiece.
“A lot of folks in the area have been to the theatre when they were kids,” Baker said. “I want to be able to provide the same kind of experience they got at a discount price.”
The Beltonian will not only be showing classic films, but it will also serve buttery popcorn, cotton candy, fountain drinks, candy and a few locally-made gourmet items.
Baker hopes that UMHB students will come to the theater for an inexpensive and fun experience.
“It’s going to be affordable and close to [campus],” he said. “I’m working with several different organizations on the campus to get some activities here.”
UMHB Junior Noah Crosby remembers visiting the theater as a child, when his church rented the theater to show a Gospel movie.
“I went there with some old friends of mine, and they were serving popcorn,” Crosby said. “It was nice on the inside with dark red carpet.
Crosby regrets that he didn’t go more often when he was younger.
“I’ll probably go again. I didn’t know it would be so affordable. I would absolutely go to watch an old movie.”
Check out The Beltonian’s Facebook page or their website, for upcoming events and movie showtimes.


Author: Lauren Lum

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