Our Story

The Archer City Story Center is an arts education community. We train storytellers of all kinds. Headquartered in the historic Spur Hotel, we host workshops for high school students, community members, and professionals.

We believe training in storytelling helps us better understand the world around us. Stories cross great chasms of loneliness and isolation, creating meaningful connections between two people. They can help us form connections based on what it means to be human. 

We believe the tools for developing storytellers always involve a process and a community. We are a table of equals, where everyone is both student and teacher.

We believe this home to ranchers, cowboys, and oilfield workers is a special place. It's special because it is still the same setting and culture that inspired many of the great writings of Larry McMurtry and is a small town that has welcomed guest students for decades to practice their craft in a real-world, immersive environment.

The Archer City Story Center is a program of the Royal Theater, a non-profit theatre group operating in Archer City since 1993 with its first production, Tumbleweeds. The Royal Theater, a small-town silver screen, was the inspiration for McMurtry's 1966 novel, The Last Picture Show, which was adapted into the Oscar-winning 1971 film starring Cybill Shepherd and Jeff Bridges. A fire gutted the theater in 1965 and the building stood in ruins for decades before being rebuilt by the Archer Community Foundation in 2000. The new theater sits adjacent to the original space, which now houses outdoor amphitheater programs.  

In its new life, the 230-seat theater quickly became a leader in North Texas and beyond as a listening and live performance venue as well as a gathering spot for the arts. For generations, the Royal Theater has been more than the symbol of an iconic book and movie. It has been the soul of the town, a place for the community to gather with, as McMurtry once said, "something to do."

As a function of the Royal Theater, our mission is to train storytellers.

The Royal Theater and the restored 1928 Spur Hotel anchor our campus, in this walkable town, visited year-round by book and movie enthusiasts. Many of them come to visit Booked Up, a legendary used book store filled with nearly 200,000 titles curated by owner Larry McMurtry, who opened the shop in Washington D.C. in 1971. After adding additional shops in Houston, Dallas, and Tuscon, rising rents drove him to consolidate to one famous store in Archer City. Travelers also come for the collections of history found in the Archer County Museum.

In 2016 the Archer City Story Center launched two anchor workshops. We look forward to expanding. CONTACT US for information about attending or hosting a workshop at the Spur Hotel or SUPPORT one of our young writers with a scholarship.

headshotJUNEK2.jpg

When she moved to Archer City in 2015, SARAH JUNEK was following her instincts. Details would be filled in. With a love for the arts and a background in education, she knew there was a pretty good chance she was doing the right thing. 

Her sister Emily serves on the Royal Theater board, and is its facilities manager. Sarah runs the Young Writer Workshop and serves as the Spur Hotel manager and director of the Archer City Story Center.

Find out about the Young Writer Workshop for Texas high school students here.

KIM CROSS is the author of What Stands in a Storm: Three Days in the Worst Superstorm to Hit the Tornado Alley. She is editor-at-large for Southern Living. In between raising her son and leading bike rides across the country as an avid athlete, she is a freelance writer and author always in pursuit of the next book topic. She lives with her husband and son in Birmingham, Alabama.

Her book explores the dark aftermath of the worst recorded storm to hit the South which set down hundreds of tornados including near her home in Birmingham on April 27, 2011, killing 333 people. Read a recent 2016 interview a year after the book's first anniversary here. Find out more about Kim on her website.

She is cofounder of the Archer City Story Center and leads the July Literary Nonfiction Workshop. Find out more about the July workshop here.

photo credit: Jason Wallis