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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 18, 2008
Contact: Helen Langan
Mayor Becker Announces List of Downtown Theater Action Group Members
Group Held Initial Organizing Meeting Yesterday
SALT LAKE CITY â€" The first meeting of Salt Lake Cityâ€™s Downtown Theater Action Group was held yesterday and members of the group announced. The newly formed Downtown Theater Action Group is being chaired by Bill Becker, a Tony award winning theater producer and an expert in theater management and development.
Mayor Becker has appointed the group to identify the ideal scenario for creating a grand theater in Salt Lake City, one that will support Broadway caliber productions. The group is comprised of a cross section of business, cultural and religious leaders who all of an interest in the fast moving downtown project. As the project evolves, Mayor Becker expects that additional community members will come forward who will be central to the planning process and be added to the group.
Members of the Downtown Theater Action Group currently include:
â€œBased on the initial conversations I have had with members of this group, I am extremely heartened that there is clearly strong support for any number of possible scenarios for establishing a grand theater in Salt Lake City,â€ remarked Bill Becker.
Mayor Becker added, â€œI have charged with group with a project that is of high priority to my administration. I am also expecting that they will move quickly to complete their work and bring the City a solid proposal for location and financing of the new grand theater. We are going to build a theater in downtown Salt Lake City and the work of this group is to figure out how.â€
â€œWeâ€™re pleased to be a part of the process to consider this aspect of the future of Salt Lake City,â€ added Brother Rem Patch, Assistant Secretary to the Presiding Bishopric of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and one of the members of the group.
As the project moves forward, Mayor Becker expects that more members of the group will be added so that all voices in the community can be included in the planning process. The group plans to meet on a weekly basis and their meetings will be open to the public.
Another memory. Up in the projection booth, there was a metal box on the rear wall, some sort of an electical connection box or maybe a fuse box (it’s been too long for me to remember). Pull the metal cover open, and someone had written inside, in pencil, (I forget the exact date it stated) “Sound comes to the Paramount, 12/??/29.” I’ll bet that a BIG night that night.
The ZCMI Center is being demolished, as far as I know, in the big downtown re-do that the LDS Church is doing.
MWK: I don’t remember anything about upper level restrooms. We might have been playing “Saturday Night Fever,” but it was decided by the distributor that the lower restrooms had to remain closed, otherwise those who had already seen the show might use (or just go into the restrooms) and then go back into the auditorium WITHOUT PAYING for another viewing. Therefore, everyone who came out of the “l” and wanted to use the restroom was directed up the stairs (or was it a ramp?“ to the "2.” That caused quite a bit of contention between the customer and the theater staff.
I believe the Elks Building was built in 1926.
The Kuong Jou Cafe is now closed.
I was an assistant manager at the Utah 1 & 2 in 1977. In the downstairs men’s room there was a locked door. Unlock the door and go through, there was another men’s room, covered in dust and obviously not used in decades. I’ve alway wondered why it was (and probably still is) there.
I was the manager of the Paramount in 1977 and did some research in at the Provo library, formerly just up the block. The following is not necessarily in chronological order:
Started out in 1914 as the Pantages Theater (I think). Live performances were given, there was an orchestra pit just in front of the stage (it had been filled in with concrete prior to my time there, but identifiable). There were box seats located to either side of the stage which had been torn out prior to my time but identifiable by the scars on the walls. There were painted backdrops rolled up on the lowest catwalk backstage. To the left (west) side of the auditorium were dressing rooms. It was a Publix Theater for 20-30 years, then a Fox (?), then an ABC Intermountain, a Plitt when I was there. Not sure who had it was it was torn in late ‘04 or early .05
I guess by ‘60s or '70s downtown theatres, you mean by popularity. The theatre itself was a lot older than that, originally known as the “Gem.” Part of the streetfront had been the “Gem Sweet Shop” with a door to Center St. At some unknown date, a large door had been cut into the left wall of the Uinta lobby into the Sweet Shop and it became the concession stand of the Uinta and was closed to the public (except for ticket-buyers, of course). This is what I was told by the employees when I was the manager of the Uinta in Plitt’s days in 1977.
The Academy was not the first movie theatre in Provo. The now-demolished Pantages/Paramount Theatre was built in 1914 but I don’t when it first started showing movies.
This theater ended its life as The Esquire Theater in the 1970’s. It showed porno at that time. I suppose the change in city ordinances forced its closure, at what date I don’t know.
The Regency was built with an undeveloped area beneath the lobby and auditorium for use as a second theater. It had doors and windows to the outside (west side) and you could look in a see a big field of large gravel rocks. If anyone asked, they were told “that’s where the other theater will be.” It never was.
The Regency Theatre was opened by ABC Intermountain Theaters in 1971. I worked there as an assistant manager in 1977. When Close Encounters played, the projectionist and a few other employees made a big silver flying saucer out of plywood and Visqueen to display on the roof, hauled it up there, and it stayed there for a few years because no one could figure out an easy way of getting it down.
Tell my sister it’s good it’s gone. She was the last manager.
This would be the Koung Jou Cafe, which has a street address of 1011 E 2100 S. It was Chinese restaurant when I moved here in February, 1969, and still is.
Could this have become the W.T. Grant downtown store? I remember years ago somebody saying that building had a ballroom upstairs, which I always thought was a strange thing for a Grant’s store to have.
The Jerry Lewis Cinemas were “sold” as small theaters that could be operated by one person as projectionist, ticket seller/taker, and concession stand attendant! They were a franchise operation, if I remember right.
By 1986, the Cinema may have been the last “porner” in Utah. but in its last years, the former State Theater operated as the Esquire Theatre and showed porn, at least through December, 1972, when I left Salt Lake for the navy. There was also another little porner called The Palace that operated for some time around the late ‘60s-early '70s. I think it was in the same general area as the Cinema.
The Academy Theatre has also been demolished. I hadn’t been to Provo in 15 years and visited today and saw that both the Academy and the Paramount around the corner (which I used to manage) are gone.