Historic Berry Theater could be demolished for a new medical clinic

Owner Mercy Clinic plans to demolish the 80-year-old Berry Theater to make room for a planned expansion of medical and dental offices.

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The single-screened theater was originally named for M.S. White, a film salesman who built the theater and ran the Dal-Sec Theater in Dallas. | Photo by Historic Fort Worth Inc.

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The 82-year-old Berry Theater in south Fort Worth could soon be demolished to make room for a new medical clinic.

The owner — healthcare provider Mercy Clinic of Fort Worth — applied for a demolition permit for the building after determining it was too expensive to refurbish.

A chance for restoration

Back in 2019, the theater was the focus of restoration efforts, including a $1.8 million plan backed by the city with a tax abatement agreement.

The restoration never happened and Mercy Clinic acquired the property in 2021 from Berry Theatre LLC. The clinic was founded in 2011 and provides free medical care to lower socioeconomic and uninsured patients in the 76110 and 76104 zip codes.

The clinic had hopes of building a state-of-the-art medical and dental facility on the adjacent lot and using the theater as a hub for community ministries.

Despite high hopes, the theater has been vacant for years, oftentimes being used as a shelter for those experiencing homelessness.

A look back in time

Berry Theater — originally named the White Theater — was built in the early 1940s at the intersection of West Berry and Hemphill Streets. The three-story building originally contained 682 seats, a balcony, a stage house, and a free-standing box office.

By the early 1960s, the theater began screening Spanish-language movies, and in 1962, it was renamed Teatro Berry. Sadly, by the 1970s, the building fell into despair.

Despite the theater being listed five times as one of Fort Worth’s most endangered places, it’s not currently designated as a historic landmark.

What the community is saying

When the news of the demolition broke over the weekend, community members voiced their opinion on social media, saying:

  • “Make an apartment in the front area, and then create parking inside for a mechanic shop, or other business…adaptive reuse.”
  • “It would be nice if those with an interest could take a quick guided tour before it’s razed.”
  • “Save the sign.”
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