When Richard Blake joined Pantagleize Theatre as managing director last fall, he told co-founder and artistic director Violet O’Valle that he intended to find the tiny company a permanent home. Pantagleize had been staging its small-scale comedies and dramas by international playwrights at various venues, including the Sanders Theatre at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center and the Fort Worth Montessori School, since the company was created in 2002. Blake began driving around the city looking for buildings that appeared dormant but promising.
“I’m not shy about walking up and knocking on the door and saying, ‘Who owns this place?’ ” Blake said. “I looked at old warehouses and VFWs and strip mall spaces. Finally I saw this great old art deco building south of downtown, got out of the car, and talked to someone there.”
That “great old art deco building” is the 80-year-old Fort Worth Public Market, a registered Texas historic landmark that sits on a lot with two other structures at 1400 Henderson St. All three buildings are owned by Bowen Properties, and, coincidentally, the Bowen family had been looking for tenants to help reestablish the Public Market complex as an active presence in the city. In June, Pantagleize Theatre signed a lease to move into the third building on the property, a former restaurant and banquet hall that was built in 1954. (A fire last week destroyed the nearby second building and interrupted the theater’s operation for several days. The fire also devastated an attempt to reinstitute an actual farmers’ market in the complex.)