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In May of 1911, the Airdome Theatre opened up for its first performance. It was located next to the Best Drug Store on Main Street, and was open air overhead with some facade on the street. Thomas Malcom was the proprietor, and by October 1911, he had decided to make the place a winter theatre by enclosing the lot with an iron building and roof. He inclined the floor and added stoves to heat the theatre during cold winter evenings.
In March of 1912, Mr Malcolm sold the Safford Theatre the Charles S. Gilpin. Mr Gilpin was a rancher from Sulphur Springs valley, and a former resident of Safford. He planned on changing the film choice three times a week.
The first talking movie came to the Safford Theatre on September 6, 1913, directly from the Unique Theatre in El Paso, Texas. This process did not include the sound embedded on the film, which was a later accomplishment, but was recorded on a seperate disc that played at the same time as the film.
In August of 1915, Mr Gilpin contracted the remodel of the Safford Theatre to Arthur Jacobson of Tucson. Plans called for a brick building with a frontage of 25 feet and a depth of 80 feet. The inside walls were to be plastered, stenciled and panelled. The front would be 20 feet in height and will have a stucco finish with an arch extending the full width of the building and electric lights overhead. It was to have 200 opera seats of the latest pattern with hat racks and side arms.
The theatre was sold to a Mr. George Marshall and Mr. Clarke before October 1919. when they appeared as proprietors in the theatre advertisement. By June 1920, Mr. Marshall was listed as lone proprietor. In July 1920, the owners were listed as Marshall & Merrill. At this time another remodeling was undertaken. Plans called for and extension of 35 feet to the building. The front would include a lobby and a fire proof operating room. 225 opera chairs were added.
In 1926, Mr. Louis F. Long moved from Wilcox to Safford and bought half an interest in the Safford Theatre from Mr. Jacobson.
During the 1950’s, the Safford Theatre showed mostly monster and early science fiction films. In its final years of operation, Mexican and Hispanic movies were shown.
When the Safford Theatre closed it had a total of 625 seats. In 2019 it is undergoing a restoration.
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