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A New Day for the ‘Devil’s Den’

By Brad Meyer

The old Paul Green Pool Hall situated next to the Crighton
Theatre in downtown Conroe. Whenever it opened,
the pool hall was operated by Paul Green, a decorated
World War I veteran


After nearly a century of service, a historical downtown structure – once known to locals as the “Devil’s Den” for bawdy behavior within – is about to remodeled, refurbished and given a new lease on life.

The Crighton Theatre Foundation has purchased the building adjacent to the Crighton Theatre in the 200 block of North Main Street in downtown Conroe to expand its facilities and better serve the community – ending the structure’s 94 years as an independent building operated as a wide range of businesses over the years.

“I had a long talk with the Crighton Foundation about their plans,” said Hershey Muse, whose family had owned the building since 1918. “I’m very pleased with goals and dreams they have to expand the Crighton Theatre and make it a showplace for downtown Conroe.”

Muse’s grandfather M.J. Ferguson bought the 3,000-square-foot property in 1918. Ownership of the property was retained by the family as a number of businesses operated in the downtown Conroe area over the years.

One of the first was a motor car garage that was a dealership for Brunswick Tires. In the early 20s, the space was taken over by a retail operation featuring dry goods and a variety of home furnishings and clothing – an early version of a department store – known as Grand Leader.

The store was part of a chain of similar department stores. In a 1925 store ad in the Conroe Courier, the retailer described itself as “Conroe’s Greatest Family Outfitter.”

An ad in the Conroe Courier
advertising in January 1925
advertising The Grand Leader store.

By the 30s however, the Great Depression had thrust much of America into an economic tailspin and Grand Leader closed its doors. The tile floor bearing the name, however, would remain – and is still visible through the front windows of the building.

The original tile floor still remains at the bottom of the
Paul Green building next to the Crighton bearing the
name of the Grand Leader store that was open in
Conroe in the 20s.


Conroe resident John Bozeman said that the retail operation closed down in the 30s and became a pool hall – though Muse said the he believes the pool hall did not begin until the 40s.

“The records from that era are sketchy at best,” said Muse. “It’s tough to say exactly when the transition actually occurred.”

Whenever it opened, the pool hall was operated by Paul Green, a decorated World War I veteran. According to the history of Conroe being assembled by Larry Foerster, chairman of the Montgomery County Historical Commission, the hall was a dark haven for men – and bold boys – to relax, tell stories and play pool.

Women, however, were not welcome in Green’s pool hall.

“Mothers and grandmothers along with other decent folk sometimes called the pool hall the ‘Devil’s Den’,” stated Foerster in his description. “No self-respecting, church-going woman would step near the place – good girls would run past the place or cross over to the other side of Main Street to go by.”

Former Conroe City Councilman Jay Ross Martin III and Craig Treadway recalled slipping into the pool hall via the backdoor when they were high school students – drawn by the smell of beer and cigarettes and the clicking sound of boisterous games of pool.

By the late 60s, the town of Conroe was changing, however and the pool hall eventually closed down. The tables were removed and the space was later leased to Southwest Furniture for storage and staging. That agreement ended in September 2011 when Southwest Furniture closed down.

The Conroe Industrial Development Corporation purchased the vacant building from Muse and his sister Marsha, turning it over to the Crighton Theatre Foundation. Plans call for an expansion of the lobby area adjacent to the Crighton Theatre – adding first floor restrooms and an elevator to make the building ADA compliant.

The Courier

August 12, 2012

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