a Baylor professor’s Palladium Palace

Photos by Sarah George | Lariat Photographer
Lorin and Christopher Matthews pose with their children in the newly remodeled kitchen of their luxurious apartment above the Palladium after the remodeling process. Pictured are also the living room and foyer areas.

By Linda Nguyen
Staff Writer

Who needs Extreme Makeover when you have these guys?

Lorin Matthews, associate professor of physics, and her husband Christopher Matthews live in a home they completely renovated themselves. What’s more? It’s the Palladium. The Palladium is a banquet hall located in downtown Waco at the corner of Austin Avenue and 8th street where many private and Baylor organizations hold events.

“We were looking for a building to put a business in, and we had been looking at locations in Hewitt and in Waco,” Lorin said. “At the time, all of downtown was mostly vacant buildings.”

The prices were really good, Lorin said, because downtown was not very busy; it was a prime time to develop. Lorin and her husband were able to buy the building that became the Palladium without having to build it themselves. However, the couple knew it was going to take some work.

Lorin said she and her husband would walk by the building every day and look in the window.

“It had the nice columns but they were covered by graffiti and it had this ugly wallpaper,” Lorin said. “I would just think, ‘I wish I could get in that building and take that peeling wallpaper off the walls.

In the end, she said only minimal renovations were required to turn the Palladium into a banquet hall: a level floor, a new downstairs ceiling and bathrooms.

Lorin said she and her husband didn’t consider making the Palladium into a banquet hall at first.

“As soon as we bought the building, we would have people stop by saying ‘Who are you, what are you doing, and can I have my daughter’s wedding here?’” Lorin said. “Then florists and caterers who did events in Waco would tell Chris, ‘If you turned it into a banquet hall, you could rent it out every weekend of the year.’”

The Palladium typically hosts events on Friday and Saturday nights. Many Baylor student organizations hold events at the Palladium.

“We make sure they follow the Baylor event guidelines,” Lorin said. “We tell them straight up that they have to follow the rules and their sponsors have to be there and there will be no alcohol.”

As a result, the Matthews said they believed they usually get the nicer events.

“We usually get formals, semi-formals, formal rush.” Chris said. “We get quite a few rush events.”

The Matthews said the events downstairs don’t interrupt their home life very much. All events must end by 11 p.m., so that the groups have time to clean up and leave by midnight. Because their kids have grown up with the noise, they said, it doesn’t bother them too much.

“Sometimes they do complain when they hear the same song over and over again,” Lorin said. “Everyone thinks their party is unique, but they play the same songs.”

Plus, sometimes they receive compensation.

“Sometimes we get an extra perk, like the caterers leave food or extra weddingcake, or the florists will leave extra flowers,” she said.

Lorin said most of the students at Baylor don’t know the Matthews’ own the Palladium and also live above it.

“I’ll have the Welcome Week students and honors colloquium over here, and those are usually the only students that know we live up here, and the representatives of the fraternities and sororities that come book events, but it’s not really common knowledge,” Lorin said.

Students are usually in awe when they first see the Matthews’ home. Earlier this year, The Woodlands junior Emily Guberman visited the Matthews’ home for the first time.

“My first reaction was: Oh. My. Gosh. This is incredible,” Guberman said.