About the Project
The original theater structure was designed by William Ward Watkin and built by Tom Tellepsen as a classic Doric proscenium structure with a narrow stage surrounded by twenty limestone columns and oak trees. Throughout the history of the theater, the Tellepsen Family’s love for construction and Houston was evident. Howard Tellepsen worked for his dad (Tom Tellepsen) on site at the age of 9 years old to provide water for the crews. The theater was dedicated on May 12, 1923 and the original dedication plaque reads, “To the Arts of Music, Poetry, Drama, and Oratory, by which the striving spirit of man seeks to interpret the words of God. This theatre of the City of Houston is permanently dedicated.”
Although the columns are no longer a part of the renovated Miller Outdoor Theatre, the two oak trees still remain and are a statement piece of the theater. Throughout the 20s, the theater served as a venue for people to come and listen to radio broadcasts of sporting events and watch live performances. In the 30s, the department of parks & recreation met at the theater weekly to gather with & educate other Houstonians. From here, the theater’s impact on the Houston community has been significant. The Houston Symphony performed its first concert on this stage in 1940 and later Theater Under the Stars performed for the first time. The Miller Outdoor Theater was refurbished in 1968 and then again in 1996 to allow for more stages & workspaces required to carry on with performances and events. Throughout the years, Miller Outdoor Theater has made many modifications such as the seating & sound system to draw people in to gather & enjoy the arts and culture that Houston has to provide. 98 years later Miller Outdoor Theater still serves the Houston community.