Villa Theatre

3092 Highland Drive,
Salt Lake City, UT 84115

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Villa Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Villa Theater is best known for its elegant neon-laden facade and sign, as well as its 93-foot curved screen, the largest in the state of Utah.

Opened in 1949, the Villa was later used as the home of Cinemiracle and Cinerama in Salt Lake City, with its three Cinerama booths still remaining in place. In fact, the theater’s original procenium, stage, and screen are still intact, and hidden behind the large, curved screen.

The Villa was last operated by Carmike Cinemas, which renovated the old movie house in 1996.

Due to Carmike’s recent bankruptcy reorganization, the Villa was closed in February 2003. It has been converted since then into a rug showroom.

Contributed by Cinema Treasures, Mark Gulbrandsen

Recent comments (view all 23 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 3, 2006 at 11:41 am

I’m not seeing what other viewers are describing in the recent pictures of the rug store. It looks to me as though the auditorium is largely intact. The ceiling’s coved lighting is obviously still there. The display walls look as though they are built out from the original walls, meaning there is no evidence that the murals have been painted over. More likely they are concealed and protected by the false walls now used for displaying rugs.

The original stairs in the stadium section are still there. The seating risers have been partly covered by new work, probably of standard wood frame, and are undoubtedly intact under it. Essentially, the auditorium has been concealed behind the new construction rather than destroyed by it.

I can’t find the current pictures of the exterior (mentioned in a comment above) on that site, so I can’t comment on any changes there. As for the seats having been sold, it isn’t as though theatre seats last forever anyway, or as though nobody is going to manufacture new (and better) seats in the future. If they were the original seats, they were over 50 years old, and probably ought to have been replaced anyway.

And the screen being gone isn’t a disaster. Theatres do replace old screens. Same for the old projection equipment. And while the loss of the original concession stand might be lamentable, it was a fairly simple design that could be duplicated easily enough.

As far as I can see from the photos, it looks as though this building could be returned to use as a theatre, still remarkably little changed from its original appearance, for considerably less than the cost of a new theatre of similar quality.

grantwsmith
grantwsmith on June 3, 2006 at 1:15 pm

Photos of the remodeling:
http://villatheatre.com/photos/Remodeling.html

Photos of the finished rug gallery:
http://villatheatre.com/photos/Adibs.html

The murals were painted over. The murals had been neglected and damaged over the years. I don’t know how much it would have cost to restore them, but this is a rug gallery now and the rugs hang on the walls.

I like the new columns on the outside of the building. They look so much nicer than the crumbling concrete pilars that were there before. Although I worry that the columns that help support the entrance canopy might detract from the entrance.

The sign is still in place, but the neon has been simplified a little. The city now has an easement on the front of the property and if they decide to widen the street then the sign will have to go. (I can’t imagine them widening the street without demolishing a few other buildings that are currently right up to the edge of the road.)

mp775
mp775 on April 17, 2007 at 3:33 pm

The Villa is featured in the documentary Preserve Me a Seat by Apartment 101 Films. The new floor is just wood platforms; the original auditorium floor is completely intact. Dr. Adib said in the film that he wanted to leave as much as possible intact so it would be possible to convert it back to a theater someday. If he did not buy the building, it would have been demolished.

According to the film, the sign did not work and was damaged when Adib moved it. The estimated cost to repair the sign was $70,000.

MNBluestater
MNBluestater on May 26, 2007 at 5:35 am

The photos of the “rug showroom” by the owners really tell it all. Check out the treatment of the neon sign (click on thumbnail). http://www.adibs.com/utshow.asp
Tacky. Wonder how long it will take to put up an “oriental carpet outlet” sign.

mp775
mp775 on August 28, 2007 at 9:29 pm

Preserve Me a Seat will be shown on Friday, September 14 at the Portage Theater in Chicago, IL as part of the “Preserving Palaces” documentary film festival, along with Uptown: Portrait of a Palace. The festival continues Saturday, September 15 with The Wizard of Austin Boulevard, Loew’s Paradise Theatre, and Memoirs of a Movie Palace. A theatre preservation discussion panel will follow the films on Saturday night. For complete information, visit www.portagetheater.org.

terrywade
terrywade on September 2, 2007 at 4:50 pm

Thanks Grant for the great photos of The Villa. I got to see this Cinerama/Toddd-AO house many years ago when we had a THS conclave put on by Van Summerill from Odgen Ut. To see the wonderfull curved screen was the hi lite of the tour week. I will be ordering a few of the DVD’S ‘Preserve Me A Seat’ this week. And thanks to Mr Adib who saved the building from the wrecking ball; while not the Roadshow 70mm house it was at least it still stands. Someday maybe the rugs can be sold in a nearby building and big scrren movies can be shown again for the people of Salt Lake. Not first run; that killed it. Bring back as many restored 70mm prints and some old Cinerama films for a new generation to enjoy. Turn it into a Curved Screen Museum and bring in the visiting tourists that come to see the Mormon Temple.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on June 26, 2009 at 4:07 am

Here is an undated photo of the marquee:
http://tinyurl.com/n4zqdz

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on June 26, 2009 at 2:37 pm

No, it was on a site called pinballrebel.com. I guess they posted the photo from your source.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on December 28, 2010 at 6:22 pm

70mm Roadshow Engagement “THE BIG FISHERMAN” Bibical movie.this on Oct 2 1959.

wpzephyr
wpzephyr on June 18, 2011 at 5:36 am

What a piece of irony that the above photo shows a hearse headed toward our deceased theatre. Makes the demise of the Villa that much sadder.

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