Gila Twin Theatres
5th Avenue & 7th Street,
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On this same site the Ramona Theatre was opened between 1926 and 1928. Mr Louis F. Long obtained the property along with Mr. Jacobson, and opened a confection and ice cream business adjacent to what was to become the Ramona Theatre. The theatre opened soon afterward. In 1928, the property was leased by brothers J. Melvin Pierce and Carl Pierce. Complete restoration of the property, with a new brick and concrete building occupying a space of 50 by 120 feet, with up to date features was finished.
Patrons would enter the theatre thru a spacious decorated lobby 20 feet x 20 feet, flanked on each side by store rooms. From the lobby one would step into the foyer from which staircases, right and left, led to the gallery with a capacity of 194 seats. Off the foyer were accomodations and well furnished rest rooms. Two entrances from the foyer led into the main floor, where a sloping oak floor was arranged with 481 leathered seats. The loge seats in the rear would grace any parlour. The projection room in the gallery was said to be practically fire proofed.
The stage had been constructed to accomodate road shows with drop curtains, and in the basement were ample dressing rooms.
Flood lights located in the metallic decorated panels gave the entire interior a beautiful effect.
Music was furnished by the latest musical instrument on the market – the Orchestraphone, built especially for theatres. It was equipped with two loudspeakers, and had been installed at a price of $2,500.00.
A contest was held to name the theatre and ‘Parnassus’ was selected. Opening night in August of 1928 featured “ Ben Hur”. Unfortunately by the following February of 1929, the enterprise and lease had reverted to the building owner Louis F. Long, and the theatre reopened again as the Ramona Theatre.
In October 1945, the theatre was renovated and reopened as the Gila Theatre. Opening fare was “Mexicana” and “Along the Navajo Trail”, along with a cartoon.
During the 1980’s, an adjoining building was renovated as a theatre with an entrance from the original Gila Theatre. This new operation became the Gila Twin Theatres. During the 1990’s, the original location was closed for good.
A new theatre opened in a shopping center in town, continuing with the Gila Theatre name. This theatre later became the Cinema 1 Theatre
The original Ramona/Parnassus/Gila Theatre was bought by Safford Builders Supply, and the old theatre was razed to make room for a new storage facility.
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