With the Liberty Theater serving as a backdrop, Amarillo city officials introduced an initiative on Wednesday designed to help preserve history while also opening avenues to other sections of the city.
Officials said the North Heights Art Project celebrates the neighborhood's heritage and the role it has played in the city’s overall growth and development.
“This is an exciting time for us in Amarillo,” Council member Freda Powell said. “It’s a great opportunity for all of our citizens to get involved and capture the history of the North Heights area, because most of the history now is held by the individuals that live in the North Heights community. We want to preserve the rich history that has shaped us and will impact generations that will come behind us.”
Officials said local artists are invited to select from a variety of designated historic North Heights venues and create art detailing historical significance. Awards and prizes for the top artists in adult and student artist categories will be presented, with officials saying more information can be accessed via www.northheightsartproject.com.
According to the city’s website, the following locations serve as project sites: Austin Funeral Home (1416 N. Hughes), Bones Hooks Park (21st and Hughes), Carter Chapel CME (412 SW Second), Carver Junior-Senior High School (1905 NW 12th), Mrs. Hazelrigg’s Home (206 N. Madison St.), Hines Home (14th and Hughes), Hines Memorial Park (1300 NW 18th), Huff’s Drug (1400 N. Hughes), The Ice House (612 SW Second), Knighton Hotel (209 S. Jackson), Ruby Lewis’ Home (1321 NW 12th), Liberty Theater (317 SE. Fourth Ave.), Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church (118 S. Van Buren), site of Patten School (NE Corner of 18th and Hughes), Summit Elementary School (2800 NW. Ninth), Warford Funeral Home (509 N. Hughes) and the J.O. Wyatt House (901 N. Hayden).
“I have the pleasure of being on the Beautification and Public Arts Committee and since we’ve started it’s really been a rapid journey,” Council member Eddy Sauer said. “We started out with the mural that was released earlier this month at the airport and now the focus turns to different parts of town. I think it’s important that we’re starting in North Heights, where they are really working hard to revitalize the area. I see this as the beginning of how we get people into other parts of Amarillo.”
The Liberty Theater was built in 1921, officials said, and spent years as the only integrated theater in the city. The site in the 300 block of SE 4th Ave. closed in 1953 and is currently the subject of multiple discussions about its renovation, related to the redevelopment of the surrounding block.
“We don’t want to leave behind the stories revealing how we got to this point,” Mayor Ginger Nelson said. “Ultimately it boils down to the stories about the people. I’m going to participate and hope to complete a painting. Art is a powerful way to remember our stories and motivate people to be part of the change that’s going to be our future.”