Sinclair Theatre

502 Lincoln Avenue,
Sinclair, WY 82334

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Sinclair Theatre

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Located in the company town of Parco (built and owned by Producers and Refiners Oil Company), the Rialto Theatre was opened in 1925. Like the entire town, it was designed in a Spanish Colonial style by Denver architects William E. Fisher & Arthur A. Fisher. It was soon re-named Parco Theatre, and was listed as (Closed) in the 1941 and 1943 editions of Film Daily Yearbook.

By 1950, it had reopened and had been renamed Sinclair Theatre, as the town had been re-named Sinclair in 1942 (after the new owners of the town, the Sinclair Refining Company). It closed in 1970. Today the building is in use as a community hall.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

Anthony L. Vazquez-Hernandez
Anthony L. Vazquez-Hernandez on February 24, 2016 at 2:40 pm

Here’s an excellent article from the March 22nd, 2015 edition of the Casper Star-Tribune about the theatre.

Town Sinclair hopes old will become new again at theater Project is part of town revitalization

By LAURA HANCOCK Star-Tribune staff writer Mar 22, 2015

SINCLAIR – In the lobby of the old movie theater, it’s drafty. The plaster is peeling. There is a tricycle, a kiddie kitchen and other items stored by the town’s recreation center.

But take a few steps further into the seating area, and community members will talk about the potential.

The 312 varnished wooden seats. The stage from which to drop a screen. The bright, hand-painted flourishes and geometric designs on the walls that match the building’s Spanish Colonial-style architecture.

No one has watched a show at the Sinclair Theatre, built in 1924, since the 1970s.

But the community, which most people identify by its oil refinery, craves an artistic renaissance. They want to restore the theater. The project is part of a larger, ongoing effort to revitalize downtown by tapping into the past to create a richer Main Street.

“We’re going back to as much original as possible,” said Wendy Faldowski, vice chairwoman of the Sinclair Theatre Restoration Committee and the town’s assistant treasurer.

Parco

Sinclair used to be called Parco, which stands for Producers and Refiners Corp. The refinery company owned the town from the time it built it in 1924 until the late 1960s.

Parco built the theater and other buildings in town with masonry and beige stucco in a distinct Spanish style. Their roofs are covered with clay tiles. Arches that are prominent in Spanish Colonial architecture serve as doorways. It was a vibrant little community in the first decades, said Leif Johansson, chairman of the restoration committee and a town councilman. There was a barber and a soda font.

“They had dances at the Parco Hotel,” Johansson said. “They had bands in the recreation hall, live bands then. They were things going on. They had a bowling alley. They had a coffee shop. They had a little grocery store.”

Johansson dated the town’s decline to 1970, when Interstate 80 opened and rerouted traffic just south of Sinclair. Traffic had previously passed through downtown on the portion of U.S. 30, known as the Lincoln Highway.

Like the old movie theater, the other buildings are still there, with different occupiers.

Culture

Today, the town has about 500 residents, many of whom are family members looking for entertainment. There is no place in Sinclair to catch a flick.

For live performances, people travel to Casper, Denver or Laramie.

The restoration committee wants to show second-run movies on the silver screen. Raise the screen, and community and professional groups could perform on the sage.

They believe the restored movie theater will be visited by Sinclair residents, and residents in Rawlins and other nearby Carbon County communities, since there aren’t many movie theaters or playhouses around.

“The town will maintain the building so we can offer activities at a discount rate,” Johansson said. “That way, no one will have to worry about profits.”

Brandon Taylor, a renovation committee member, performed as a professional stage actor in New York and California for six years before returning to the area to raise a family. A local theater company he’s involved with, Upllift Community Players, wants to perform in a small, intimate space like the Sinclair Theater.

Live performances to Carbon County currently play at Rawlins High School, which has an auditorium that seats 1,000, Taylor said.

Taylor’s wife is a classically trained ballerina who owns a dance studio. Its production of “The Nutcracker” each year that could also use the facility, he said. “Anybody culturally who wants to come in and do a production, it would be a space,” he said. “It would be a stage with some seats, something that’s hard to come by, and a very cool and interesting space.”

Restoration

Restoration of the theater will cost more than $3 million and take two years, Taylor said.

The committee has launched a GoFundMe page to accept donations for the project. It will try to obtain state and local grants.

It needs bathrooms and other features that can be accessible to patrons in wheelchairs. The committee wants to move the ticket booth and concession stand to other parts of the building. The theater needs asbestos abatement and a modern film projection system.

Quality of life

Communities throughout Wyoming are upgrading their downtowns to draw more people and nightlife and enhance residents’ quality of life, and Sinclair is no exception.

“We’ve wanted to do a Main Street like all the big towns are doing, and our Main Street goes from the end of the refinery all the way to 10th (Street),” Faldowski said.

The town has finished restoring a fountain on the plaza and a pavilion in the city park. It moved an old Union Pacific caboose in the town park and will build a deck in front of it to draw live, outdoor concerts, Johansson said.

Work on the theater is next, and it could be the upgrade that will entice people to leave their homes and go downtown, like people did last century.

“It’s unique,” Taylor said. “You don’t see many theaters like this.”

Anthony L. Vazquez-Hernandez
Anthony L. Vazquez-Hernandez on February 24, 2016 at 2:52 pm

Another article from the November 30th, 2014 edition of the Rawlins Daily Times

Revitalize Sinclair eyes restoration of downtown parks, trees, theater By DAVID LOUIS Rawlins Daily Times Nov 30, 20

SINCLAIR — A revitalization is sweeping through historic downtown Sinclair. Fast on the heels of this summer’s project to revive Kistler’s Fountain after more than 60 years, town officials have set their sights on more improvements.

Next to be completed by the end of the year or early 2015 — depending on the weather — is a new pavilion in Washington Park.

The new, larger pavilion will replace one that has never been functional, said Lezlee Musgrave, Sinclair town clerk and treasurer.

“Before, we had a small pavilion that only a couple of picnic tables could fit under,” Musgrave said. “With the new one, we will be able to fit up to 88 people under it. The pavilion is going to be a really great improvement to our park.”

Along with increased capacity, the pavilion will also include a counter top with electrical outlets.

“We have a lot of residents and nonresidents who reserve our park for family reunions, picnics, graduation ceremonies, things like that,” Musgrave said. “We wanted to make it more user-friendly.”

Along with sprucing up the town’s historic plaza, city officials have also continued work on several beautification projects, including urban forestation.

Sinclair has had the distinction of being a Tree City USA town for the past three years.

The Tree City USA program is a national program that provides the framework for community forestry management for cities and towns across America.

Participating communities demonstrate a commitment to caring for and managing their public trees. Together, the more than 3,400 Tree City USA communities are home to more than 135 million Americans.

“When (Parco) was built in the 1920s, there were so many trees planted,” Musgrave said. “Most of them were cottonwood. Now they are very old. Every year, we go through town and cut down the dangerous or dead trees and replace them with different types of trees to give the town a unique look.”

On the horizon, Sinclair officials will soon turn their attention to restoring the 1924 town theater.

Though the theater has been used over the years to host town functions, no films have graced a silver screen since the early 1960s, said Town Councilman Leif Johansson.

“In 1970, the town tried to reopen it as a theater, and that didn’t go over too well. It has been closed ever since,” Johansson added.

In its heyday, the theater would have been an interior designer’s dream with its Spanish motif, hand-painted walls, art deco fixtures, leather-covered seats and deep-pile carpeting.

“It is still pretty much all original,” Johansson said. “Everything is pretty much as you would have seen it in the 1920s.”

The theater is one of the few buildings still owned by the city.

“As far as renovating the theater goes, we’ve really only just started raising the money,” Johansson said. “We are looking at keeping it as original as possible and keeping it a town building and community theater.”

The remodeling work will include replacement of the electrical wiring, plumbing, stucco and fascia work, asbestos removal and relocation of the ticket booth to its original placement in front of the theater.

The majority of the funding needed to complete the work will come from community business grants, said Wendy Faldowski, Sinclair’s assistant treasurer.

“We are going to look into a community business grant for planning and design,” Faldowski said. “This will help us put the design together as well as take care of structure, engineering and environmental concerns.”

Sinclair officials expect construction to begin sometime next year.

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