Villa Theatre

3092 Highland Drive,
Salt Lake City, UT 84115

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Showing 25 comments

davidcoppock on April 8, 2017 at 6:29 am

I think this might be the cinema and it’s marquee seen briefly in the movie “Drive me crazy”.

In3rdmillennium on December 7, 2015 at 6:03 am

I saw Superman with Christopher Reeve for the 1st time here. It was a family movie night. It’s a super memory I have. Also my wife and I saw L.A. Confidential here.

wpzephyr on June 17, 2011 at 9:36 pm

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.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on December 28, 2010 at 10:22 am

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

kencmcintyre on June 26, 2009 at 6:37 am

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

kencmcintyre on June 25, 2009 at 8:07 pm

Here is an undated photo of the marquee:

terrywade on September 2, 2007 at 8:50 am

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.

mp775 on August 28, 2007 at 1:29 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

MNBluestater on May 25, 2007 at 9:35 pm

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

mp775 on April 17, 2007 at 7:33 am

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.

grantwsmith on June 3, 2006 at 5:15 am

Photos of the remodeling:

Photos of the finished rug gallery:

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.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 3, 2006 at 3:41 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.

ghamilton on June 2, 2006 at 4:52 pm

Readers wouldn’t know or appreciate the great work Grant does.He is also a Cinema Treasure.

grantwsmith on June 2, 2006 at 4:31 am

I run the web site and have spent a lot of time trying to save the Villa Theatre. I was not happy to hear that the Villa would become a rug gallery, since I very much wanted to see it return to use as a theater. I think I would really like to have just walked away from the theater the night that it closed and never have come back – so that I could just remember it the way it was. I have been back many times, however, to take photos of the changes. It’s been hard to see the seats removed, the screen and curtains gone, the ticket booth and concession stand taken out, the murals painted over, etc. On the other hand, the building is still here, which is more than we can say for the Centre. Hamid Adib, the new owner, has a genuine interest in saving and preserving the Villa and has takens some extra steps to preserve some of the elements of the theater. But he also has a business to run. The building has had some much needed repairs and it has been brought up to current earthquake codes. It’s going to be around for a long time and there’s always a possibility it can return to use as a theater. So even though the Villa hasn’t been preserved the way I wanted it to be (as a theater), it has been preserved. And I have to admit that it’s a marvelous rug gallery.

filmguy707 on February 13, 2006 at 7:40 am

It is such a catch-22…on one hand, I am glad that the current owner preserved the original architecture, but furious and upset that he turned it into a goddamn rug showroom! At the same time, though, it would be probabl be even worse to see it totally demolished, gone forever. So it’s a toss up between gone forever emotionally, or gone forever physically. I am just so sad that there is really no turning it back to a theater again. The seats were torn out and sold to other theatres, the projectors were taken apart and sold by part…It’s just so terrible!

sdoerr on February 12, 2006 at 4:26 pm

I agree now, I thought the new owner would keep everything the way it was and restore it all.

Instead we get fake columns, removal of the canopy sign, painting over the murals… so much for the villa being the way it was

HowardBHaas on February 12, 2006 at 4:09 pm

I was never there, but wrote a letter to help. From the photos, I found thrilling the marquee and sign. Looks like the sign mostly survived? Does it ever light up?

The marquee and front of the theater, however, no longer resembles its fantastic old self. Does it light up at all? What a shame that for advertising and so people could continue to enjoy them, the fabulous marquee and sign couldn’t have saved. As is, this doesn’t seem enough of a victory for preservationists.

Looking at the interior photos, must have been a terrific place to see a movie.

filmguy707 on February 12, 2006 at 3:44 pm

Those new photos want to make me cry! I am only 18 yrs. old but I saw many movies at this theatre with my dad. Good Times! Yeah i just CANNOT believe that they did this to this amazing place! I am writing this at the movie theatre I currently work at and both my managers took part in closing it down. If you want details…emial me…its too sad and graphic to talk about here! No joke! My email:

ghamilton on May 23, 2005 at 5:59 am

Today’s SLC paper has a good article on the theater and the owner’s intent.He stepped up to save the building atleast,when no other person or group would.

RobertR on October 1, 2004 at 8:09 am

The photos of the renovations on this grand old place are heartbreaking. So sad the theatre gets restored as recently as 1996 and still had that incredible screen and now gone. Something like this can nver be replaced.

sdoerr on August 9, 2004 at 12:40 pm

The owner does have good intentions, he plans to make a museuem of sorts and is trying to maintain and restore the theater.
He bought it so it would not get demolished.

sandcastlekid on June 20, 2004 at 11:38 am

There was an article in the trib that it is going to become an oriental rug store. But the owner wants to perseve as much as possible… yeah right!

RobertR on March 30, 2004 at 1:23 pm

Any updates on The Villa?

sdoerr on November 23, 2003 at 10:35 am

I hope we can save this gem! Don’t let it turn into a furniture showroom!