Luck Opry House and Saloon
Located on Willie Nelson’s 500-acre Luck Ranch in Spicewood, Texas, the pop-up town of Luck was built in the mid-1980s as a set for the film adaptation of Willie’s iconic 1975 album “Red Headed Stranger.” The original script for the movie called for burning down the set, but because Willie loved the makeshift Old West town so much, the script was revised, and Luck was saved. Over the years, Willie has transformed the former movie set into an event venue where family, friends, and fellow musicians come together to share music and comradery.
In 2019 — ahead of the annual music festival, Luck Reunion — Cushing Terrell conducted a feasibility study to look at opportunities and operational needs for the town with the first phase focused specifically on the Opry House and Saloon. The Opry House, which features a small stage and dance floor, saloon-style bar, and back-of-house support spaces, serves as one of the main stages for events at the ranch.
Following the feasibility study, Cushing Terrell, along with structural engineering firm Hollingsworth Pack and general contractor Bill Ball, carried out the work to preserve and renovate the Opry House and Saloon. The goal was to stabilize the building and adapt it to meet current building standards and contemporary use without losing its Old West look and feel.
Looking at the Opry House building from the outside, it’s hard to tell that we did anything at all and that was the point. With the care taken to achieve Willie’s vision and apply a subtle design touch, the hope is to keep the wonderment alive for future musicians, audiences, friends, and family.
Initial plans for a larger renovation project, including demolishing the Opry House and Saloon except for its front façade, were scaled back to focus on the essence of the 1,340-square-foot building. Even though the structure is not historic, the design team approached it with the same level of care as they would for a preservation project. The idea was to work with what was already there — wood-clad walls, wood floors, and exposed wood trusses — and keep the same look and feel while optimizing the venue for its new purpose. A 642-square-foot addition, bringing the total square footage to 1,982, was paired with structural upgrades, egress improvements, and general repairs to the building. The exterior was largely left as it was, except for repairs to the siding and roof.
One of the biggest challenges was meeting the aggressive construction schedule to ensure the renovation work would be completed in time for the Luck Reunion, which brings nearly 4,000 guests to experience more than 35 bands. In addition to being a stage for talented musicians, the Opry House serves as a venue for photo shoots and videos — a backdrop that creates feelings of nostalgia and community and reflects the distinctive spirit and character of the Texas Hill Country.
With five stages, including the Opry House stage, people come to the Luck Reunion for a singular music festival steeped in a feeling of community and with a mission to “provide a space for craftmanship, preservation, and discovery.”
What started as a one-day event each March, the Luck Reunion, has grown into a community; a platform for us to share the ethos of Luck and bring together musicians, chefs, and artisans who are contributing to American roots culture in an authentic way.