Orpheum Theatre

146 Main Avenue North,
Twin Falls, ID 83301

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Orpheum Marquee

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The Orpheum Theatre opened on October 31, 1921, with 900 seats. In the 1950’s, when it was an Intermountain Theatre, many considered the Orpheum Theatre to have the sharpest, although small, CinemaScope screen in Idaho. This was probably because the projection booth was built downstairs instead of in the balcony, giving a rather short and direct throw.

The Orpheum Theatre still has a very sharp and small picture but when the lights go down in the restored 1920’s auditorium, the walls seem to close in giving a very intimate viewing experience. The balcony is closed now with its approximately 250 seats removed.

In contrast to the auditorium, the concession stand and outer lobby have a clean, contemporary look. It used to have a full marquee and now it has one that sits flush with the front of the building.

In keeping with downtown urban renewal that began in 1970, it was called the Mall Cinema for many years and then changed back to the Orpheum Theatre in the late-1990’s to reflect its location in Historic Old Towne, a part of the Twin Falls Downtown Historic District. The district was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.

Another downtown theater, the Idaho Theatre, was completely demolished. The Orpheum Theatre is now operated by Interstate Amusement.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

ivanmlincoln
ivanmlincoln on August 25, 2009 at 7:02 pm

According to the 1956 Film Daily Yearbook, the Orpheum Theater originally seated 731. The balcony was quite a bit larger than the main floor and could easily have seated about 430-plus.
The Orpheum also had a relatively small stage for occasional live performances. the auditorium itself was very ornate, with a back-lit proscenium arch over the stage and dome-shaped molding in the ceiling.
The Orpheum’s first CInemaScope presentation was “Rose Marie,” in the spring of 1954 — coinciding with the arrival of Twin Falls' first local TV station.
Probably because it was then operated by Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Theatres, the Orpheum frequently played major first-run films abouit the same time they were playing in Boise and Salt Lake City.
“The Ten Commandments” played for nearly three weeks — an unprecedented long-run in a town where most films played for just a week or less.
During the mid-1950s I worked at both the Orpheum and the Idaho as a ticket-taking doorman (in a uniform that looked like Harold Hill’s in “The Music Man”), canged the marquees and assisted the assistant manager when the manager was on vacagtion.
Most of the memorable old Magic Valley theaters have long since disappeared, but the Orpheum is still a commanding presence on Main Street in downtown Twin Falls.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on April 9, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Photo is not there anymore.

RickB
RickB on January 9, 2011 at 9:53 am

Cosmic observation of the day: all of the theaters listed for TWIN Falls…are single screens.

ivanmlincoln
ivanmlincoln on June 19, 2012 at 3:47 pm

We drove through Twin Falls last weekend (Sunday, June 17), and I picked up a copy of the local newspaper, the Times-News. From the theater ads, it appears that the once stately Orpheum Theatre has been down-graded to a bargain, “dollar house.”

With the opening of the new Magic Valley 13 complex on the north side of town, the fairly small town of Twin Falls now has a total of 28 screens, including two drive-ins.  The drive-ins, the Orpheum and the Twin Cinema 12 are all operated by the same corporation (which also operates a four-plex across the river in Jerome).
                  Growing up, the Orpheum was the classiest showhouse in the valley. They consistently played the newest films at the same time they were showing in Salt Lake City, where the corporation that then ran both the Orpheum and Idaho was based.
                  -- Ivan Lincoln
                  
bosshog87
bosshog87 on March 24, 2014 at 11:59 pm

it was originally constructed as a playhouse where obviously they would put on plays. was not a movie theatre to begin with. there are rooms upstairs where it looks like there were apartments or some type of living quarters. wouldn’t be surprised if there were brothels upstairs just like in many of the buildings on main street had.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 25, 2014 at 1:25 pm

The author of this article at the web site of the Twin Falls Times-News claims that the Orpheum Theatre opened in its present location in 1918 (he appears to be mistaken- see the final paragraph of our description of the Gem Theatre) after having operated on Shoshone Street North for a number of years. Its original location was on Main Street South, where it opened in 1906.

A gallery accompanies the article, with exterior photos of the Lavering Opera House and the Rialto Theatre, an interior shot of the Lyric Theatre, and an early photo of Main Street that includes the original Orpheum, which was in a tiny, wood-framed building.

OCRon
OCRon on March 25, 2014 at 4:24 pm

I Lived in Twin Falls during the 1950s and have personal memories of the Orpheum. I have previously researched all of the theaters of Twin Falls thru the archives of the Times-News, which is available online at the Twin Falls Public Library.

Here is some information I have gathered on the Orpheum over the years, which isn’t in my original submission.

After 16 months of construction, which began in June of 1920, It opened on October 31, 1921. The Twin Falls Daily News on opening day said the Architect was J.H. Dodd and there was seating for 900. The opening attraction was Mary Pickford in ‘Thru the Back Door.’ The projection room was built with 14-inch concrete walls, making it absolutely fireproof. The T-F-A- chiseled into the upper façade of the building stands for “Twin Falls Amusement.” Some of the known operators were H.H. Hedstrom, its builder, (1921-1931), Publix Theatres (1931-36), Intermountain Theatres (1936-1975) and currently Interstate Amusements (1976-present). Interstate purchased the building in 1976, removed the overhanging marquee and replaced it with one that is flush with the remodeled façade. The Times-News said the carpeting, drapes and seating were replaced and the ticket booth moved inside. It was renamed the Mall Cinema until 1997 when it again became the Orpheum.

To recap: The operators over the years are:
1921-31 H.H. Hedstrom, its builder 1931-36 Publix Theatres 1936-75 Intermountain Theatres 1976-present Interstate Amusements

(One correction to my description of the Idaho Theatre: It was never called the Rialto. I will send that correction to the Idaho Theatre page.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 25, 2014 at 7:16 pm

In my previous comment I was mistaken in saying that the second Orpheum was on Shoshone Street North. It was at 131 Shoshone Street East, and when the new Orpheum opened in 1921 it became the Rialto Theatre.

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