The building located at 218 W. Main St. in Denison has had many names and functions in the century that it has stood in downtown Denison. The building originally served as the Star Theater during the early days of Denison’s existence, and continued that role as the State Theater years later. At another point it was owned by a church. In 2014, it will start a new life as a brewhouse.

The building located at 218 W. Main St. in Denison has had many names and functions in the century that it has stood in downtown Denison. The building originally served as the Star Theater during the early days of Denison’s existence, and continued that role as the State Theater years later. At another point it was owned by a church. In 2014, it will start a new life as a brewhouse.


Earlier this month came the announcement that the building would soon reopen as the Ivanhoe Ale Works, under the management of Gabe Parker. Parker is also the owner of the neighboring Homestead Winery, and produces sherry at the site.


"This was a building that 15 years ago we purchased for $10," said Parker. At the time of purchase, the building was in disrepair and needed a new roof. In the years since its disuse, Parker said birds had moved into the facility. "My wife told me I bought something that could never be repaired," he said.


At the time of purchase, Parker said he saw the building as a "blank canvas" that he was unsure what to do with.


"We are at a point with this blank canvas where we know what we want to do," said Parker.


On Tuesday, Parker and business partner Johnny Wells unveiled their plans for the site at a meeting of the Denison Historical Preservation Board. Parker’s designs show plans to return the facility to to the look and feel of the 1920s and 1930s with a distinct art deco motif that the building had during its days as the State Theater.


The designs call for a tall sign running vertically along the front of the building with the word "Ivanhoe" emblazoned in neon. The designs also call for a triangular marquee to extend out from the building, giving it the feel of a mid-century theater and allowing the brewhouse to display messages to potential customers.


After consulting with the Texas Historic Commission, Parker was told the structure would be more valuable as an art deco piece than if it were returned to its 1890s exterior due to the rarity of the style in the city. Parker plans on designing the facility to match his neighboring Homestead Winery, which is also of the art deco style.


The interior also shows many stories of the building’s history. Indentations near the top of the bare wall show where the original rafter attached to the walls. Dark marks along the upper wall mark where the tiered seating of the now-nonexistent balcony once stood. From the interior, the windows from the original 1890s design, which were sealed up when the building was converted to an art deco design, can be seen.


"You couldn’t do anything to give these walls more character," said Wells.


Parker said when he was drilling a hole for a support to the new roof, the workers were amazed to discover seven distinct and separate foundations underneath the floor.


Parker said he doesn’t have experience with brewing beer, but he has been touring breweries around the state to get an understanding of the process.


"The difference is this — wine tends to make itself over time where beer is more like a recipe," he said.


Main Street Director Donna Dow said the brewery will play a key role in the future development of the downtown district. With the addition of the brewery, Dow said she hopes it will help attract new businesses and visitors to Denison.


After the facility starts production, it will be the only location in the state of Texas to produce both wine and beer, said Dow. This could appeal to families where one member prefers beer while another enjoys a glass of wine, she said.


"You can enjoy the same space but different tastes at the same time," she said.


Parker said he plans to begin production with three standard brews and one seasonal. The brew stations are expected to arrive in November.


"Our goal is for you to be able to toast holiday cheer in the Ivanhoe brewery," said Parker.