Texas Lakes Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Archer City

Royal Theater

A thorough restoration of the Archer County Courthouse through the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program returned the rusticated sandstone edifice to its 1926 oil boom-era appearance. But it was back in 1858 that becoming county seat of newly-created Archer County first proved more fiction than fact. The first settler, English-born R. O. Prideaux, didn’t actually arrive for another two decades, not until the U.S. Army finally drove Indians from the area. The well-educated Prideaux became a prominent cattle rancher, county leader and influential proponent of reading and schooling. That seems fitting, given that literature often brings folks from across the world to Archer City, thanks to native son and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry. The town and the loss of its Royal Theater inspired McMurtry’s popular novels and subsequent movies, The Last Picture Show and Texasville. Gutted by fire in 1965, the real-life Royal Theater rebuilt in 2000 now stages theater and musical productions. McMurty’s Booked Up bookstore offers thousands of used and rare books. While it town, book collectors wander in search of local history into the Archer County Museum, a three-story repository of heritage artifacts housed in a 1910 county jail.