W. A. Clark Theater

1106 Main Street,
Deer Lodge, MT 59722

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kencmcintyre on March 18, 2009 at 8:28 pm

The Butte Standard reported a fire at the prison theater on December 5, 1975. Here is a side-bar article about the theater:

DEER LODGE â€" Montana State Prism’s brick theater building was historically one of the most precious artifacts within the compound on Main Street. Literally “shelled out” by fire early Thursday, the theater on the south side of the prison yard was completed in 1919 by convict craftsmen, using materials donated by Butte mining magnate William A. Clark.

Highly ornate on the inside, the balconied theater was designed for an audience of 1,000 and later remodeled to seat between 400 and 500. The first presentation in 1919, according to Deputy Warden Jim Blodgett, was a Broadway-type show for the public and prisoners were not admitted. Soon thereafter, Warden Frank Conley used his Butte theater connections to obtain the first weekly movie sessions for inmates in the Northwest. Conley, strong on a proper work schedule for the prisoners, was said to have used the movie privilege to insure good conduct.

Until the Wednesday night fire, the theater was to have been a highlight among the old prison buildings planned for a future museum.

msetty on December 15, 2006 at 5:29 pm

When I went on the tour of the old Montana state prison in September 2006, I thought it notable that this is the only theater that has a display of a scaffold and gallows used to execute Big Sky Country bad guys. A rather gruesome fate for a former theater!