Craigmont Theatre

117 W. Main Street,
Craigmont, ID 83523

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The Craigmont Theatre celebrated its grand opening on Saturday March 21, 1936 with Bing Crosby in “Anything Goes". The theatre was rebuilt rather quickly after a fire, as reported in the Spokane Daily Chronicle, which had destroyed the theater on November 19, 1935. The other buildings burned were Berry’s Store and Henry Hoene’s pool hall. The nearby bank suffered only smoke and water damage. The total loss was estimated to be $20,000 ($325,000 in 2013 dollars).

At the time of the 1935 fire, the theatre may have been all new and open for just months. The Lewiston Morning Tribune had previously reported on December 12, 1934 that Henry Haener was remodeling his Craigmont building into a new theatre.

According to the archives of the Ilo-Vollmer Historical Society in Craigmont, movie going in Craigmont goes back to at least 1920. There were movies in town three evenings a week at a picture show called The Film. In 1926 a news article noted that Al Wagner had purchased the Craigmont Theatre from Stevens Brothers.

A memorable community event happened on the evening of July 12, 1938. The Craigmont American Legion sponsored a benefit called “The Hollywood Premiere & Craigmont Follies". The event was “an exact replica of a first night at Graumann’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard". Craigmont young people were selected to portray stars arriving at the theatre under floodlights where they were greeted over the mike and then escorted to their seats. The stars then put on a forty-minute revue on the stage before the feature film “It Happened in Hollywood", starring Fay Wray and Richard Dix.

In 1946 the theatre sound and projection was upgraded with new equipment. Several Morning Tribune articles from 1950-51 noted that the then owners, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Cone, were putting on their annual Christmas show for the children. The Cone Theatre Circuit also included locations in Winchester, Pierce and Wieppe. On May 9, 1952 the Tribune noted that the Cones had sold their Craigmont and Winchester theaters to Henry Philpott of Myrtle Creek, Oregon. They, however, planned to continue the operation of their theaters in Weippe and Pierce.

By 1955 CinemaScope had come to Craigmont. The theatre program of June listed some new wide-screen movies among the 15 that played that month. The theatre was then charging adult admission prices of 60-cents, which would be the equivalent of $5.00 in 2013.

On January 18, 1957, after a three-month closure, the theatre reopened under the management of John Knudsen from Nezperce, Idaho. Mr. Knudsen, who was adding improvements to the theatre, said movies would be shown from Friday through Monday.

The Film Daily Yearbook of 1954-55 lists the Craigmont Theatre with 240 seats but it may have closed by the early-1960’s. A May 1969 story in the Lewiston Morning Tribune, announcing the retirement of Earl Berry, noted that in 1963 he had purchased the theatre to expand his grocery store.

Contributed by Contributed by Shelley Kuther and the members of the Ilo-Vollmer Historical Society & Ron Pierce
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