Uinta Theater

33 East Center Street,
Provo, UT 84601

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UINTA Theatre; Provo, Utah.

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A cozy little theater, smallest of the 60’s and 70’s downtown theaters. Didn’t have a true balcony. It also felt more like a theater than the “big” one. Fell victim to the arrival of multi-screen facilities in happy valley. Destruction coincided with the elimination of the retail importance of downtown. How unique. Staffed, as were the others, by BYU students, mostly working part-time. If the employee was a local kid, you could tell by the surly attitude. The smallness, grimness, etc. of the three theaters most availible to BYU folk was the reason I took dates as often to Salt Lake City’s former array of great movie palaces as the local places.

Contributed by g.hamilton hill

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

ghamilton on September 27, 2005 at 2:45 pm

Of course if the date was really promising,you took here to the lovely Pioneer Drive In.Also you had the option to head to the Art City Drive In, or the theater in downtown Springville.For real adventure,you could take your life in your hands and head to Spanish Fork.The locals there did NOT like BYU people.

utahguy on October 1, 2006 at 4:51 pm

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.

brucenorton on November 2, 2008 at 8:29 am

Surly local kids huh? SURLY! I beg your pardon. I was one of the local kids there mid to late 60s. We had few if any BYU (zoobie) students working there. Pretty much all high school kids, local, surly high school kids. And actually we were a very pleasan bunch.

The Uinta “did” have a balcony. usually closed because local fire codes demanded there be an usher up there if it were open. We were usually glad it was closed. On our breaks and after our shifts there were a lot of memories made in that balcony.

It, like the Paramount, a couple doors down, also had some dressing rooms. The stairs to which had long been boarded up. We discovered them by leaving from the projection booth and walking along the rafters, old rickety rafters, to the north end of the building. There was a hallway and two dressing rooms. There were trunks full of old musty costumes and misc. other things that really didn’t interest us kids at the time. I also remember tear shaped glass balls with liquid in them haning on the walls. We thought they were some kind of decoration, but later found out there were a form of fire extinguisher mate to explode when exposed to flame.

another find in our exploring were boxes of old silent film in the attic outside the projection booth. I remember the projectionest telling us they were silent as they didnt have a strip along the edge that contained the sound track in later movies. He would not try to project them because he said they were so old they would probably burst into flame if he tried to run them in his projector which was like a big arc welder. Welding rod, flame and all. He drank a lot, I guess night after night of sitting through “The Sound of Music” would do that. That also explained why occasionally, when he would doze off, there would be a break in the movie as he would miss the que, as it came on the screen, telling him to strike up the second projector.

Those were great days, but Surly ? Come on zoobee, you were just a typical uptight Zoobee. Should have gone to the “U”.

I have never found a picture of either the Paramount or the Uinta. Would sure like one. If anyone has one you can send it to

And if any of those surly kids in the red monkey suits are in the picture, even better.


brucenorton on November 2, 2008 at 8:35 am

I typed the previous rant in the middle of the night. For which I must apologize, especially to zoobees for a few spelling errors. and a corredtion in my email address;

donkincheloe on April 23, 2010 at 4:03 pm

I worked at the Unita and Paramount in Provo while I was going to BYU. It was the greatest job. It was small and forced the staff to really inneract. We even, so many years later, stay in contact with a few people. We really believed that the two theaters were haunted and seemed to see “things” out of the corner of our eyes. We often found old posters and pieces of movies in the rafters. I was working there when the above pictures were taken and remember those movies will. I placed the letters for “splash” on the sign myself. In the winter it was interesting to get the the letters up there when there was snow on the ground.

Don K.

ghamilton on April 24, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Hey,Bruce,were you working at the Uinta when Rosemary’s Baby was showing? Provo lost a whole lot when the Center St.Theaters were lost. According to Smith’s UTAH THEATERS website,there was once a large theater further West on Center,but it disappeared,I guess,in the 50’s.

DD on February 14, 2015 at 2:48 pm

I remember going to the movies in the 50s when the Paramount, Uinta,and Academy theaters cost 14 cents for a ticket. We went one day to the Strand, which only cost 9 cents. I was so excited to have saved a nickel. The bad part was that I lost my nickel and spent the whole time crawling along the floor trying to find it. I missed the movie and lost my nickel!

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