Chief Theatre

215 North Main Street,
Pocatello, ID 83201

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Chief Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The neon-lit indian-chief head that watched over Pocatello’s Main Street was a local landmark. After opening in 1938, the Chief Theatre served the community for over 40 years, and during the golden age, under Fox Intermountain Theatres.

The interior has scenes of the old West painted along the side-walls of the auditorium, with borders made of tribal symbols. Stenciled buffalo medallions looped overhead on the ceiling above the balcony.

The Chief Theatre had closed by 1984 and was deteriorating, it was donated to the city by its owner. The Chief Foundation was formed to restore the building and its volunteers spent nearly ten years using donated money to put the Chief Theatre back together.

More than a superficial restoration, a new roof and a heating and cooling system were installed. The restoration in 1993 had reached a point where bookings were being accepted and the community was satisfied that they would finally have a renewed attraction to draw people downtown.

Then the unthinkable happened. On March 20, 1993, the Chief Theatre was gutted by a fire that started in the roof. The only item salvaged from the fire was an indian-chief tile mosaic.

In 2001, a local business which moved into a building next door to the former Chief Theatre and turned the leveled site into a parking lot, restored the mosaic to use near its entrance.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

BruceReeves
BruceReeves on February 5, 2006 at 10:17 pm

My father, Paul Reeves, a tilesetter from Salt Lake City, put down this Indian Chief Mosaic in the outer lobby of the Chief Theatre in 1949, nerly 10 years after the theatre was built. My father, mother, sister, and I lived in Pocatello that year. He was very proud of his work on the mosaic. He always said that ceramic tile, when well done, lasts forever. His work on this mosaic, despite everything that has happened to it, proves he was right. He would proud to know that it still exists and can be seen and appreciated on the Internet.
Bruce Reeves
Berkeley,California

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 24, 2006 at 2:41 am

The Film Daily Yearbook, 1950 edition lists the Chief Theatre with a seating capacity of 1,244.

William
William on April 21, 2006 at 9:49 am

Fox Intermountain Theatres was an affiliated with National General Theatres Amusement Corp. before Mann Theatre bought the circuit from National General.

JTOB
JTOB on June 18, 2006 at 2:34 am

I CAN’T BELIEVE I FOUND THIS SITE. I HAVE SUCH FOND MEMORIES OF THE OLE CHIEF THEATER IN POCATELLO, IDAHO. I LIVED THERE WITH MY MOM FROM 1946 TO 1954 AND DON’T THINK THERE WERE TOO MANY SATURDAYS DURING THAT TIME PERIOD THAT I WASN’T SITTING EITHER IN THE CHIEF THEATER OR THE ORPHIUM TOTALLY CAPTURED BY THE ENTERTAINMENT THEY HAD TO OFFER.

I’M TALKING ABOUT 25 CARTOONS, TWO MAJOR REATURES, SERIALS, SHORTS, NEWS REELS AND SOME “LIVE” PERFORMERS. I SAW BLACKSTONE THE MAGICIAN, HOPALONG CASSIDY, BURL IVES AND AUDIE MURPHY JUST TO NAME A FEW. I WON AN ENGRAVED DUNCAN YOYO AT THE CHIEF FOR “ROCKIN’ THE BABY” DURING ONE OF THE LIVE DEMONSTRATIONS.

AS I REMEMBER TELEVISION WASN’T AVAILABLE, OR AT LEAST WE DIDN’T HAVE ONE AND THAT MADE THE ALL-DAY EVENT VERY, VERY SPECIAL TO ME. IN FACT, SOME DAYS DURING THE WINTER MONTHS THE SUN HADN’T COME UP WHEN I WENT THRU THE FRONT DOOR AND WOULD HAVE SET BY THE TIME I CAME OUT.

I GOT ONE SILVER DOLLAR AS MY ALLOWANCE EACH WEEK AND LOOKED FORWARD TO SPENDING THE WHOLE THING AT THE MOVIES ON STURDAY.

IT DOES MY HEART GOOD TO STEP BACK IN TIME FOR JUST A LITTLE WHILE.

THANKS … TOM O’BRIEN

ginnymccombs
ginnymccombs on July 31, 2008 at 12:26 pm

My dad and grandfather worked on the Chief Theatre as brick masons in the early 1940’s. Maybe some addition or repair. My parents met as mom walked home from Pocatello High School and spotted this cute worker. I have many fond memories as a child and also taking my own children in the late 70’s and early 80’s. The fire was a heartbreak. Glad the mosaic was preserved. Good times!
Ginny

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on February 2, 2010 at 11:24 pm

Here is an October 1955 ad from the Idaho State Journal:
http://tinyurl.com/yhlr4gr

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 18, 2011 at 7:00 am

This web page has a timeline for the Chief Theatre, and one photograph.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on June 17, 2012 at 11:54 am

Two auditorium views of the Fox Chief Theatre are featured in this 1938 trade ad: boxofficemagazine

RoadsideArchitecture.com
RoadsideArchitecture.com on November 6, 2013 at 5:22 pm

The category should be “demolished” not closed. The theatre was destroyed in the 1993 fire and there’s a parking lot there now. The neon Chief sign was saved and has been restored. It will soon be displayed on the former site of the theatre. See this article

paulnelson
paulnelson on November 6, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Handsome marquee and blade signage. Dramatic building. Pictures of interior would be great.

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