Wheaton Theatre

527 State Street,
Weiser, ID 83672

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The Twin Falls Daily News on May 21, 1937 said that a $40,000 fire destroyed the old Wheaton Theatre in Weiser earlier in the day. The Bend Oregon Daily Bulletin said in their coverage that the theatre was worth $75,000. At the time of the fire the theater, built in 1908, was once the premiere center of entertainment but had been closed for many years. Dorothy Yockey Maxwell said in a 2001 memoir in the Weiser Signal American that W.W. Wheaton built the $80,000 theater, designed with an Egyptian motif, in 1906. It was said to be the finest theater in the state. At the time of the fire, Wulff Hardware, located next door, owned the shuttered Wheaton.

Sometimes the present day local Star Theatre has been referred to as the former Wheaton. Linda Morton-Keithley, writing for the project “Movie Industry in Idaho” for the Idaho State Historical Society found out differently. Her research into newspaper accounts shows the Wheaton Theatre and Star Theatre in operation at the same time. Sanborn maps also show both theaters at different locations. In 1998 Morton- Keithley interviewed Bruce Gordon, the grandson of A.C. Gordon who built the Star Theatre. This interview shed some light on the location. In about 1913 Mr. Gordon’s grandfather bought the Wheaton Theatre and he temporarily renamed it the Star Theatre and then moved the Star Theatre to its present location in about 1917. Despite the brief name change, the old opera house will be remembered as the Wheaton Theatre. Adding to the confusion is that the local Knights of Pythias lodge hall was also once called the Star Theatre.

Today Peoples Furniture occupies part of the old Wheaton location. According to an old photograph in the Signal American, the Wheaton building would have been across the alley from the present day Ace Auto Parts.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 1 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm

The Wheaton Theatre is listed in the 1914 edition of Julius Cahn’s guide as a second-floor house with 567 seats. The 1906 guide had listed it with 850 seats. All of the available Cahn guides I’ve seen in which the house is listed call it the Wheaton Theatre, never the Wheaton Opera House. A commemorative spoon seen on this page also calls the house the Wheaton Theatre.

Also, in the photo currently displayed here, the name Wheaton Theater is on the building just below the cornice. I don’t think the place ever operated as the Wheaton Opera House, though an early drawing from before the house was built has “Opera House” on the building where the photo shows “Theater”.

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