El Raton Theatre
115 N. 2nd Street,
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This little theatre is a gem.
Constructed as an Atmospheric style theatre, in the style of a medieval Spanish castle, the building was designed by the Albuquerque, New Mexico, architectural firm George Williamson, Inc. It was built for the partnership of Dr. L.A. Hubbard and Thomas F. Murphy. The cost of the theatre was reported to have been approximately $100,000. Construction began on July 15, 1929 and was completed for its grand opening on April 20, 1930. The inaugural movie was a Warner Brothers sound picture in natural color; “Song of the West” starring John Boles and Joe E. Brown.
The exterior facade has turrets, battlements and other appropriate decorations befitting a Spanish castle in the Gothic style of architecture. There are two storefronts located on each side of the main entrance to the theatre. The auditorium and balcony contained a total of approximately 520 seats.
The Spanish castle motif was reflected throughout the interior of the building. Surrounding the auditorium’s movie screen it resembles the theatre’s facade of an ancient castle. The audience were made to feel as if they were seated in a courtyard with the side-walls painted in a floral design, resemble vines growing over an old Spanish structure. The murals and designs were painted by the noted artist J. Charles Scnoor, grandson of Baron Jacob Carlzevalt Von Schnoor who was knighted by King Ludwig of Bavaria for his work in illustrating the German bible.
The Raton Evening Gazette for April 18, 1930, reported that the ceiling was painted in a “….soft deep blue of the southern sky, studded with many twinkling stars, and here and there, (clouds) floating leisurely across the arched expanse are so real that we can hardly believe we are surrounded by four walls and a roof.” The side-wall murals were painted over when some remodeling was done by architectural firm Brittelle, Ginner & Neuner) and the ceiling’s stars and clouds also disappeared. These changes were the result of a fire and explosion in fall of 1951.
In August 2006, the theatre was listed on the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties. The El Raton Theatre was closed in October 2006. On January 17, 2007, the theatre was listed on the National Register of Historic Properties.
In April 2008, three Raton couples, Traci and Ted Kemp, Kerry and Kristie Medina and Donna and Neil Emiro purchased the theatre. It is now open and showing feature movies and special events.
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