Historic Theatre Preservation: How New Mexico is Saving its Historic Theatres

posted by ThrHistoricalSociety on August 12, 2015 at 9:54 am

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This article written by Elmo Baca, a New Mexico MainStreet Program Associate, Economic Development Department, looks at how historic theatres are achieving success with investment from Main Street programs.

A tiny prairie town of 3,200 on the state line in northeastern New Mexico, Clayton welcomes many Texas snowbirds in the winters en route to the New Mexico and Colorado mountains. Long before, Santa Fe Trail wagon caravans rumbled westward near here, and the vast buffalo plains surrounding Clayton nurtured great herds of cattle.

In town, meanwhile, sits the nearly 100-year-old Luna Theater, which operates today as one of New Mexico’s oldest movie houses, and the state’s best preserved from the silent movie era. The reason for its success: New Mexico’s MainStreet Historic Theater Initiative, the only program of its kind in the nation to actively invest in rural downtown theaters to keep them as economic anchors for their communities.

The Luna — originally known as the Mission Theater – has a colorful past. Prosperous merchant and rancher Morris Herzstein built the theater and adjacent business block in 1916 after a disastrous fire wiped out his headquarters mercantile store. Built in a unique fusion of Classical and Mission-style architecture, the theater’s facades survive intact, while the generous recessed entry foyer boasts an ornamental ceiling laced in gold paint.

Read more about the success of New Mexico’s historic theatres here: The Luna — originally known as the Mission Theater – has a colorful past. Prosperous merchant and rancher Morris Herzstein built the theater and adjacent business block in 1916 after a disastrous fire wiped out his headquarters mercantile store. Built in a unique fusion of Classical and Mission-style architecture, the theater’s facades survive intact, while the generous recessed entry foyer boasts an ornamental ceiling laced in gold paint.

Read more about the success of New Mexico’s historic theatres here: The Luna — originally known as the Mission Theater – has a colorful past. Prosperous merchant and rancher Morris Herzstein built the theater and adjacent business block in 1916 after a disastrous fire wiped out his headquarters mercantile store. Built in a unique fusion of Classical and Mission-style architecture, the theater’s facades survive intact, while the generous recessed entry foyer boasts an ornamental ceiling laced in gold paint.

Read more about the success of New Mexico’s historic theatres here: http://blog.preservationnation.org/2013/08/12/how-new-mexico-is-saving-its-historic-movie-theaters/#.VctdmrVGzIl

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ABOUT THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA: Founded by Ben Hall in 1969, the Theatre Historical Society of America (THS) celebrates, documents and promotes the architectural, cultural and social relevance of America’s historic theatres. Through its preservation of the collections in the American Theatre Architecture Archive, its signature publication Marquee™ and Conclave Theatre Tour, THS increases awareness, appreciation and scholarly study of America’s theatres. Learn more about historic theatres on our website at www.historictheatres.org

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