Mission, TX 78572
The Rio Theater was built in 1912 by Spanish emigrant Juan Bautista Barbera as a brick building originally named El Teatro La Paz (Peace Theater). The theater was used as a center for lectures, putting on plays, films, and during the Great Depression, as a building to deliver food to the needy.
Spanish classics, like Don Juan Tenorio, and Mexican classics, like Llorona Malditas Sean Las Juieres, were proudly showcased at the theater. In addition, the theater was used to crown the Dieciséis de Septiembre (16th of September) Fiesta Queen. In 1945, Enrique Flores, Sr. bought the Peace Theater and changed the name to the Rio Theater. He and his wife operated the Rio Theater for many years and willed it to their son, Enrique Flores, Jr., who continued to operate Rio Theater. Under this new management, Rio Theater became a center for the arts, and the Xochil Art Institute, a non-profit organization with a board of directors, was established but later dissolved. Today, the Rio Theater has returned to being a cultural center that houses a restaurant, an art gallery and theater performances. For Mexican-American residents of Mission, the cultural significance of this building cannot be overstated.