Huntridge Theater

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Huntridge Theater
2010-1218-HuntridgeTheater2.jpg
Huntridge Theater in 2010
Huntridge Theater is located in Nevada
Huntridge Theater
Huntridge Theater is located in the United States
Huntridge Theater
Location1208 E. Charleston Blvd.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Coordinates36°9′29.21″N 115°8′10.57″W / 36.1581139°N 115.1362694°W / 36.1581139; -115.1362694Coordinates: 36°9′29.21″N 115°8′10.57″W / 36.1581139°N 115.1362694°W / 36.1581139; -115.1362694
Area2 acres (0.81 ha)
Built1943
Built byPioneer Construction Co.
ArchitectLee, S. Charles
Architectural styleModerne; International
NRHP reference No.93000686[1]
Added to NRHPJuly 22, 1993
Photos of original marquee letters still stored on site taken July 2020

Huntridge Theater sometimes known as the Huntridge Performing Arts Theater is a Streamline Moderne building located in Las Vegas, Nevada, that is listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places. The building was designed by S. Charles Lee.

First opened as a cinema, the theater also hosted stage performances and was a concert venue throughout its lengthy history. In 2021, the Huntridge was bought after sitting abandoned for almost 17 years. The theater is expected to be fully remodeled and reopened to the public in the near future.

History[edit]

Construction began with a ground breaking announcement in the Las Vegas Review-Journal on April 6, 1944. The theater opened on October 10, 1944.[2] with a press release boasting seating for 950, the first theater in the city to be completely air-conditioned, and state of the art projection equipment that is manufactured to 100,000th of an inch tolerance ("eliminating eye strain!").[3] It was operated by the Commonwealth Theater Company of Las Vegas, and later the Huntridge Theater Company of Las Vegas. Both companies were headed by Thomas Oakey of Las Vegas. The Huntridge Theater Company, which took ownership in 1951, was partially owned by the actresses Loretta Young and Irene Dunne. The theater was built on land which had been owned by the international business magnate Leigh S. J. Hunt, before he left it to his son Henry Leigh Hunt in 1933. The Huntridge Theater and the surrounding Huntridge subdivision are named after the Hunt family.

In 1951, Nevada Theater Corp., managed by Lloyd Katz, leases the Huntridge Theater and would de-segregate them in the coming years.[4] The Huntridge Theater is said to have been the first non-segregated theater in Las Vegas.[5] Katz is warmly regarded by those growing up in the neighborhood for his 25-cent admission for children during Saturday morning Kiddie Matinee, featuring Disney movies, Roy Rogers westerns, and Looney Tunes animated shorts. [6]

The Theater was purchased by Frank Silvaggio in 1977, and in November 1980 the theater was partitioned into a 2-screen theater.[7] In 1992, Richard Lenz leases the theater, tears down the dividing wall and converts it into a live events hall: Huntridge Performing Arts Theater.

Lenz led the effort to add the theater onto the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.[1] Dapper Companies led the effort to get the property added to the City of Las Vegas Historic Register on September 1, 2021.[8]

On July 28, 1995, the punk rock group Circle Jerks were to perform at the theater. Several hours before they were to arrive, the roof of the theater collapsed. There were no serious injuries.[9] The lead singer, Keith Morris, later commented, "As soon as we got there, we were told that the roof had collapsed and the show was canceled. We didn't have anywhere else to go, so we just set up our equipment in the parking lot and played for the 30 or 40 people who were still there."[10][11] The theater was built in 1944, amidst World War II, when steel was in high demand. As such the roof trusses were built with Douglas Fir pine, which baked in the Las Vegas heat for 50 years before ultimately collapsing.[12]

While attempting to save the theater, it was operated by the non-profit Friends of the Huntridge Theatre, Inc. which was dissolved in 2002.[13]

The Huntridge Theater closed on July 31, 2004, almost 60 years after it opened.

The property was controlled by the Mizrachi family of Las Vegas, who owned a furniture store occupying a part of the property which used to house a bank.

In July 2012, a local non-profit organization called The Huntridge Foundation had been working to preserve the architectural integrity, history and culture of the Huntridge Theater and the surrounding community. Among other activities, the foundation conducted oral history interviews of longtime Las Vegans who experienced the theater when it was open, collected theater memorabilia and photographs for an historic archives collection to be donated to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Libraries Special Collections Department upon completion.[14]

In April 2013, a potential redevelopment project started and the theater received new paint and exterior restoration.[15] However, any future plans after that did not occur.

In 2014, the State of Nevada sued Eli Mizrachi alleging “his group had breached grant provisions by failing to pay for maintenance work and by keeping the theater closed for years.”[16] However, the case was settled in 2016.

On March 31, 2021, the historic theatre was bought by Dapper Companies for $4 million. The founder of Dapper Companies, J Dapper, had been largely improving the surrounding area of the theatre. Across Maryland Parkway, to the side of the theatre, sits a shopping mall named after the Huntridge; simply called the Huntridge Shopping Center.[17] The shopping mall hosts mid-century architecture and includes a Wingstop and Savers, as well as a barber shop called The Garrison. A newer building that was constructed in 2020 includes a Roberto’s and a Capriotti’s. (J) Dapper had been trying to acquire the Huntridge for almost a decade; but could not due to the legal issues that the Mizrachi family were facing. In a news release, the company stated that the project is to cost around $10 million and plans to finish within three years time.[18][19]

Popular culture[edit]

In 2015, a Las Vegas record label emerged with the name Huntridge Records, in order to commemorate the historic theater. The label is based in 11th Street Records, and it has signed one band, named The American Weather. [20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ Clarke, N. (2004). Vegas Confidential: Norm! Sin City's Ace Insider 1,000 Naked Truths, Hot Spots and Cool Stuff. United States: Stephens Press, LLC. p. 220.
  3. ^ Toole, Michael (October 7, 2004). "Aging Gracefully".
  4. ^ "Vintage Las Vegas". Vintage Las Vegas. Retrieved 2021-08-20.
  5. ^ Lenz, Richard (1993). "Huntridge Theater". National Register of Historic Places – Registration Form. National Park Service. Retrieved April 26, 2009.
  6. ^ Toole, Michael (October 7, 2004). "Aging Gracefully".
  7. ^ "Historic Huntridge Theater's declining ticket sales leave it in financial trouble - Las Vegas Sun Newspaper". lasvegassun.com. 2000-02-25. Retrieved 2021-08-20.
  8. ^ "LV Council discusses a request to designate the Huntridge Theater as a Historic Building on the city of Las Vegas Historic Property Register".
  9. ^ "The once and future past: Historic local landmark Huntridge Theatre to reopen for business". Las Vegas City Life. October 8, 2002.[dead link]
  10. ^ Michael Toole (October 7, 2004). "Aging Gracefully". Las Vegas Weekly. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  11. ^ Niemeyer, Erin (1996-05-15). "Huntridge theater emerges from rubble". LasVegasSun.com. Retrieved 2021-04-02.
  12. ^ 8/20/2021 Phone interview with Richard Lenz/John Curran
  13. ^ "Entity Details". Nevada Secretary of State, Nevada.[dead link]
  14. ^ "Founder". The Huntridge Foundation. Retrieved February 1, 2014.[dead link]
  15. ^ Schoenmann, Joe (April 9, 2013). "Joe Downtown: Does phoenix mural signal rebirth for landmark Huntridge Theater?". Las Vegas Sun.
  16. ^ "With sale complete, developer wants to bring Huntridge Theater back to life". Las Vegas Review-Journal. 2021-03-31. Retrieved 2021-04-02.
  17. ^ "Huntridge Center celebrates its rebirth with a neighborhood bash - Las Vegas Weekly". lasvegasweekly.com. Retrieved 2021-04-02.
  18. ^ "With sale complete, developer wants to bring Huntridge Theater back to life". Las Vegas Review-Journal. 2021-03-31. Retrieved 2021-04-02.
  19. ^ Lilly, Caitlin. "Developer purchases Huntridge Theater in downtown Las Vegas for $4M". FOX5 Las Vegas. Retrieved 2021-04-02.
  20. ^ Ian Caramanzana (February 8, 2017). "The American Weather ascends to the stage of its dreams". Las Vegas Weekly. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
Photo of iconic 75 foot tall sign and marquee taken in February 2021.