The Ritz Theater, Austin, TX

The Ritz Theater Historical Marker, Austin, TX

According to Judge Larry J. Craddock, whose family owns the The Ritz, the space opened two weeks before the stock market crashed in 1929. Because there was a hunger for escapism, the theater that was started by L.L. Hegman survived. As the first theater built for sound movies in Austin, it was successful from the start. In the early days, the cinema was a mecca for B-movie Westerns. The stars of the films often came to town and put on a show at the theater.

The theater passed to Hegman’s son Elmo in 1937. It was officially a movie theater until it was closed in 1964. In 1974, Jim Franklin and Bill Livinggood reopened the Ritz, becoming a stage for musical performances from the likes of Willie Nelson and others. It also hosted stage plays.

In 1975, Franklin closed shop. But in 1982, Craig Underwood, Shannon Sedwick and Michael Shelton converted the Ritz into a music venue, garnering the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Waters, Megadeth and the Red Hot Chili Peppers to play its stage. It would remain a music venue until 1987. Throughout the 1990s and until 2005, it was both a bar and a live music venue.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema occupied the space from 2007 until 2021. It closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Historical Marker Inscription

In 1927, the historic Ritz Theater was built and opened by J.J. Hegman and is still owned by his grandson, Austinite Larry Craddock. “Talkie” made the Ritz a destination early on. Ten cents would get you a ticket and a comfortable seat. Westerns became a staple, as well as boxing and family films. The Ritz has enjoyed many incarnations as a live music venue and event space. In the mid ’70s, Jim Franklin, of Armadillo World Headquarters fame, revived it as a rock ‘n’ roll hall. In the early ’80s, the Ritz was home to countless national and local punk bands, such as Black Flag, The Misfits, The Big Boys and Minor Threat. Later in the ’80s, the Ritz was home to Esther’s Follies, as well as heavy metal bands such as Testament and Slayer. In 2007, Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League restored the façade and converted the Ritz back to a movie theater which continues to operate today.


320 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

30.26731°N, 97.73961°W

First Gas Well in the Panhandle of Texas

The first gas well discovered in the Panhandle of Texas was found by Dr. Charles Newton Gould and his team. Gould was a geologist born near Lower Salem, Ohio, on July 22, 1868. Having received a masters degree in geology in 1900, he was tapped as a territorial geologist and geology instructor by the University of Oklahoma. While during the fall he taught classes, over the summer months, he worked in the Indian Territory (areas where the government relocated Native American populations) on federal geological surveys.

During the summer of 1903, Gould was commissioned by the Hydrographic Branch of the United States Geological Survey to survey the geology and try to find underground water sources west of the Indian Territory and east of the Rocky Mountains. Over the course of three seasons during 1903 through 1905, Gould and his compatriots mapped the geological features of the Texas Panhandle.

Historical Marker Text

The discovery well in the vast Panhandle-Hugoton Gas Field, largest known gas field in the world, is located one mile east of this point on the east slope of John Ray Butte.

The geological structure was discovered by Dr. Charles N. Gould in 1905 while in the employ of the United States Geological Survey, and the well was located by him in 1917.

This well, the Hapgood, Masterson No. 1, was started December 1, 1917, and completed at a cost of $70,000 as a gas well December 7, 1918, at a depth of 2605 feet. It produced about 5,000,000 cubic feet of gas per day. This discovery initiated the development of this great gas field and of the Panhandle oil fields.

The gas field now extends 275 miles from the Texas Panhandle north into Kansas, with a width in places of more than 90 miles. Pipelines from this field transmit gas to Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, and to most of the cities and towns of the mid-west. Lines also carry gas to Los Angeles and to other cities and towns on the west coast. (1965)

Location: 35.573383, -101.949463

Located 30 miles north of Amarillo off US 287

Headwaters of the Sabine River

The Sabine River is over 500 miles long and moves from Upper East Texas to the east and empties into the Gulf of Mexico. It starts in Hunt, Collin and Rockwall counties, and then flows towards Logansport, Louisiana, before it finally discharges near Orange, Texas. This river had served as the boundary between multiple territories, including the United States, Mexico, Spain and France.

The original name of the river was Sabinas, the Spanish name for red cedars, which are known to grow on its banks.

Historical Marker Text

A half mile to the west rises the Sabine River, lower channel of which separated New World empires of France and Spain and in 1836 became Republic of Texas – United States border. Fork here is called Cow Leach, for Indian chief who lived in the area. This marker is on a 3-way watershed: flow to the north goes into the Sulphur and to the Mississippi; the west drains to the Trinity; south goes into the Sabine, which forms Texas-Louisiana boundary and pours more water into Gulf of Mexico than any other Texas river (6,400,000 acre feet annually).

Location: Off Highway 69, Celeste, TX 75423
N 33° 19.366 W 096° 12.455

Littlefield Building, Austin

The Littlefied and Scarbrough buildings in Austin have lined the cityscape for over a century. In fact, these used to be the tallest buildings in Austin. The Littlefield Building actually as the tallest building between New Orleans and San Francisco during the early 1900s.

Littlefield was home to the American National Bank. Built by a former Confederate army major and president of the National Bank, George Littlefield started the groundwork for the new location of the bank in 1910. It was previously in the same location as the historic Driskill Hotel .

George Littlefield was a major player in the Austin area. During the first 50 years of the University of Texas, he was the college’s biggest financial contributor.

When the Littlefield building was completed in 1912, it was eight stories tall and had a garden rooftop for events. Then, he enclosed the top, creating a ninth story – effectively making it the tallest building in Austin.

To this day, the building is still home to office buildings.


George Washington Littlefield (1842-1920) came to Texas from Mississippi in 1850. After serving in Terry’s Texas Rangers in the Civil War, he made his fortune ranching and driving cattle. He moved to Austin in 1883 and, in 1890, established the American National Bank, which included a ladies’ banking department. He hired architect C. H. Page, Jr., to design this Beaux Arts Classical building, which opened in 1912 with a rooftop garden. His bank was on the ground floor. For the corner entrance, he commissioned Tiffany’s of New York to cast bronze, Bas Relief doors by sculptor Daniel Webster. These were later donated to the University of Texas, of which Littlefield was a major benefactor.


Latitude & Longitude: 30 15′ 58.043196″, -97° 44′ 31.835076″

Address: 601 North Congress, Austin, Texas