Lensic Performing Arts Center

211 W. San Francisco Street,
Santa Fe, NM 87501

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Lensic Performing Arts Center - November, 2010

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Built in 1931 with 1,000 seats, this Atmospheric style stunner served Santa Fe for sixty eight years as a movie house that also showcased music and live theater. It was designed by Robert O. Boller of the Boller Brothers architectural firm. Closed in 1999, the Lensic Theater recieved a $8.2 million restoration after a successful fund raising effort led by Ms. Nancy Zeckendorf of Santa Fe, who serves as Chair of the Board.

Known since 2001, as the Lensic Performing Arts Center, the theater is a gathering place for the famous artistic community as well as a venue for music, theater, film, and more.

Contributed by Craig Hoopes, Dorothy Boller Hall

Recent comments (view all 18 comments)

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on July 6, 2005 at 8:02 am


Thanks for your posting. Again, let me reiterate that the Lensic is a great place and I’m VERY glad to have been able to visit (my home is East Tennessee). You mention that you’re on staff there. So please tell me why if there is a house main, if there is cove lighting why weren’t these they used for “Steamboat Bill”? Certainly that was one occassion when they would have been absolutely appropriate to be highlighted.

Above, you mention “The ceiling had already been painted flat black (it is now dark blue) and the cloud projector and tapestry long gone – same with tile vestiges or plants.” When you say tapestry what do you mean? Boller Brothers theatres were often semi-atmospheric – a tent over the auditorium with the sky visible only at the edges. Is that how the Lensic was built? Were there stars? Why weren’t they restored? Surely the flat, grided ceiling I saw wasn’t original – be it blue or black.

Please tell us more about the renovation, how decisions were made and when it all happened. This site is to disseminate oral history to a wider audience. Please, this is your chance to fill out the story.


Richr on August 22, 2005 at 3:01 pm

I went to the College of Santa Fe in the mid 1960’s. We always had an ‘inside’ joke about the Lensic. The name of the theater was spelled out on the walls inside… “LEN” on the left and “SIC” on the right (as noted above). We called it the (Look quickly left and say) Len (look quickly right and say) Sic. College kids. I remember seeing Mary Poppins there with my friends and enjoying it.

teecee on September 14, 2005 at 3:19 am

1999 photo, note the curved side and the different marquee:

faberfranz on October 8, 2005 at 5:13 pm

ziggy: “I visited this theatre on November 6 to see the screening of ‘Gone With the Wind’…”

Hey, so did I! Um, wait. I don’t think it was November. Maybe you saw a re-run. I saw that movie at the Lensic on its first run. (Admission for kids 10 cents? or was that later?)

ziggy: “…The atmospheric auditorium has had all vestiges of tile roofs and plants removed, and the atmospheric dome has been replaced by a flat ceiling from which are suspended various light bridges, catwalks, and ducts…”

Hmmm… I recall the ceiling as very mysterious. Mostly dark but with (I think it was at the Lensic, if not some later theater in Albany) something reddish glowing in the corner(s)…as if a giant apple. [Maybe it was later, because I sort of associated it with that poisoned apple in Snow White.)

Will Dunklin: “I just spent a lovely vacation week in Santa Fe and was very fortunate to be able to see Buster Keaton’s silent comedy ‘Steamboat Bill’ presented with a live 6-piece orchestra at the Lensic…”

Now I’m confused. I saw a movie about a steamboat at the Lensic, but it was a talkie: I recall a repeated refrain, guy on the bridge saying “steamboat ‘round the bend!” (Was it Wallace Beery? couple of kids beside him?)

wtmarch on August 3, 2007 at 2:58 am

Nice work! Your old buddy from Toronto Canada, now living in Manila, Willy M. –

bruceanthony on August 3, 2007 at 10:37 am

The Lensic needs to restore the vertical it looks to blah without it. brucec

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on April 28, 2008 at 2:53 pm

1987 photos of the Lensic Theater in Santa Fe here, here and here.

brianm9943 on May 14, 2010 at 7:40 pm

I first came across the Lensic when I moved to area in 1993. I took in a movie (To Wong Fu with Love – Julie Numar?) just so I could take a look inside. There were rumors about closing it at the time. I haven’t been back to see the renovations, but I’m glad they removated it rather than close it.

misterboo on August 18, 2011 at 2:12 pm

This was the place where I saw Star Wars in ‘77. It was my small town equivalent of the Village Theater in Westwood.

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