Ace Theatre

17 S. Idaho Street,
Wendell, ID 83355

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Ace Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Originally built as a store in 1910. Dooley Perkins converted it into the Ace Theatre in 1945. Wendell then had a population of about 2000, with most of its economy revolving around farming.

During the late-1950’s Dooley rented the theatre out but continued to live in an apartment at the back of the theatre where he also operated his commercial sign-painting business, which at the time probably became more successful than the theatre.

Westerns were the biggest draw at the Ace Theatre while musicals didn’t fare too well. Two pictures that filled the house were Disney’s “Old Yeller” and a Ginger Rogers movie, “Teenage Rebel”. Some residents who were children in the 1950’s may remember the free Saturday matinees sponsored by the local merchants.

A 1970’s photo from the book “Silent Screens” shows the Ace Theatre as a thrift store. In the 1990’s it was twinned with seating listed as 267 and around this time, I believe, it was called Ace Theatre and Video. A Film Daily Year Book from the 1950’s gives it’s original seating as 480.

It was shuttered in early-2000 and an internet search shows the building to be the headquarters of a theatrical equipment and supply company. In 2015 plans were promoted to convert the building into a cinematic museum.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

kencmcintyre on March 23, 2007 at 4:23 pm

Here is a 1985 photo by Michael Putnam:

kencmcintyre on June 30, 2008 at 10:10 pm

There is a small shot of the Ace on this page:

kencmcintyre on October 30, 2008 at 9:20 am

The theater supply company website now is mostly related to theater photos:

John Eickhof
John Eickhof on March 9, 2015 at 12:02 pm

I am the current owner of the ACE. To update the statements above, Morris ‘Dooley’ Perkins opened the ACE in late 1945. The building is not a ‘quonset hut’ but was originally the Wendell Mercantile Co. opened in 1910. The all masonry building was modified in 1952 for Cinemascope and the roof line was raised as well as the proscenium was expanded for the larger picture. It was at this time the ‘barrel’ style roof purchased from a nearby school gymnasium was placed on top of the building. The theatre is being remodeled into a museum of motion picture technology and is still operational with 35mm film. There will be an interactive 1940s vintage carbon arc projection room as well as projectors and related movie equipment on display dating to the late 1890s. I currently have approx. 50+ vintage projectors for the museum and I am continuing my search for memorabilia regarding theatres in southern Idaho as well as equipment to place in the display. For more information, please email me.

dickwpierce on October 25, 2015 at 11:20 pm

My dad, Walton F. Pierce, leased the theater from Dooley Perkins around 1957-1958 for about 1 year. He would go around town collecting money from the merchants and bar owners for the free movie to draw people in to town on Saturday. I was the projectionist there and went on to run the projectors in Gooding for Bud Shubert, the owner of the hotel across the street from his theater. Next I went to Burley to work for the Harris family at the Burley Theater.

And then on to LA to work as spot man at the Paramount theater near Pershing Square. My duty was to stand under a spot light all day and direct people to the direction of there seat. Ushers would take over from there. All reels were measured with a counter and changeovers were made by a counter on each projector measuring how much film was left on the reel.

In the 1970’s I went back with my family to visit Dooley. He was desperate to sell the theater then. I told him that I was not much of a business man. The best teenage movie was “Rebel Without a Cause.” I had all the teens like me autograph it and I think that my brother Ron still has it.

dickwpierce on October 25, 2015 at 11:24 pm

Dooley Perkins owned several theaters. His best story was that at his theater in Buhl, Idaho his ushers started the pop corn machine and went out to play base ball until it was time for the customers to come in. They left the pop corn machine unattended, It caught the building on fire and it burned down. In my previous comment I forgot to say that the teens signed the movie poster. He only had one lung because of lung cancer due to smoking. He always drank Pepsi. In his younger days good income days he always drove a Cadillac. His wife divorced him and he remarried again. He could also play a violin and painted the bottom half of my Buick. Does any one know how old he lived to be.

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