Save the Mayfair

HOME | DESIGN
2017
July/August

Location is everything. The Art Deco Mayfair Building nestled in Tyler, Texas was set up for greatness.  Built in the late 1920’s by local Sam R. Hill Construction Company, to serve as a multipurpose building. Often referred to as the “Opera House,” the Mayfair was a midpoint from Shreveport and Dallas providing various opportunities for entertainment in Tyler. How would this building know that it was poised to welcome Texas Rose Festival royalty, WWII soldiers, orchestras, big bands, wrestlers, boxers, and of course an exhaustive list of famous entertainers and singers?

The array of talent that graced the stage of the Mayfair is impressive! Let this list take you back in time to just some of the entertainers: Elvis Presley (appeared three times), Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Barbara Mandrell, David Allan Coe, Buddy Ebsen, Carl Perkins, Big Bopper, Slim Whitman, Sonny James, Gatlin Brothers, Ernest Tubb, Junior Samples, Grandpa Jones, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Porter Wagoner, Tex Ritter, Charlie Pride, Minnie Pearl, Smiley Burnette, Faron Young, Willie Nelson, Bo Diddley, Red Foley, Hank Williams, June Carter Cash, Maxine Brown, Anita Bryant, Tammy Wynette, Johnny Horton, Bob Barker, Roy Acuff, Jim Reeves and the Grand Ole Opry tour group. Professional wrestling matches were also held here as well as, Golden Gloves boxing events.  You might remember Fritz Von Erich and his famous “iron claw grip,” along with his sons, wrestled in the Mayfair.  Buddy Turman, the Texas Heavyweight boxing champ, fought in the Mayfair in 1955.

The building was uniquely designed with acoustics in mind and was meant to be a showpiece. Fortunately, it has had very few changes over the years. Originally built with fixed theatre seating, the Mayfair but was remodeled in 1938 to accommodate the first Texas Rose Festival Coronation Ball. The stage was relocated to the north side of the auditorium, and the floor was redesigned with multi-level seating platforms. WWII soldiers at USO events danced on the same beautiful wood floors you see today. Behind the paint, siding and ceiling tile reveals the original art deco paint scheme and a vaulted roof. 

The building is owned by the City of Tyler which has allowed the Friends of the Mayfair group the opportunity to spearhead and work on a project of completely restoring the facility. In an effort to bring back this iconic venue, Historic Tyler Inc. has given them a $10,000 grant to kick off their quest.  The Friends of the Mayfair and the City of Tyler are dedicated to seeing the building completely restored, creating a viable venue for many different types of events.  The building can seat 500 dinner style with a sizable dance floor, or seat up to 800 with auditorium style seating.  Once restoration is complete, the building will be available for public and private events. 

Time and neglect have taken a toll on this historic venue. The project will likely be around 1.5 million to restore the Mayfair Building. Fund-raising efforts are in the works. If you are interested, we invite you to join us to bring back the Mayfair to its former glory days, putting it back in its rightful place in Tyler’s history.

 

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