148 S. Main Street,
Salt Lake City,
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The Pantages Theatre was built in 1919 for vaudeville, opening on December 1, 1920 with Mary Pickford in “Polyanna” showing on the screen plus vaudeville acts on the stage. On September 11, 1929 it was renamed R-K-O Orpheum Theatre. On September 29, 1937 it was renamed Utah Theatre, opening with a revue on stage “Spices of 1937” plus the movie “The Girl Said No” starring Robert Armstrong. For many years it was one of downtown Salt Lake’s great movie palaces with a seating capacity of 1,823. By the early-1940’s it was operated by Paramount Pictures Inc. through their subsidiary Tracy Barham. “The Sound of Music” showed at the theatre for two years.
Most of the elaborate ornamentation in the theatre was lost in the 1960’s when a floor was added to convert the balcony into a second auditorium. A concession stand and escalator were added to the balcony level, but most of its ornamentation remained untouched. The lower floor had pillars added, apparently to support sections of the new floor, and any surviving decorations were covered with drab draperies.
The CityRep group used the theatre for live stage productions after Cineplex Odeon let its lease expire in the 1980’s, but they were eventually forced to find a new home when the theatre was sold.
The new owner, a writer from Park City, planned to restore the building for live entertainment, but it never happened. The theatre was sold again and the new owners started a restoration project, but apparently it failed.
In 2019 a ‘Save the Utah Theater’ group was set up to promote a renovation and reopening of the theatre.
The theatre has been vacant for years.
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