400 N. Hastings Avenue,
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The story of Hastings' city auditorium dates back to the early-1900’s when plans called for a new auditorium to complement the Kerr Opera House. The original Auditorium was built opening on June 14, 1909 with live vaudeville and 2,000 feet of film. Fred Hayter, who had launched the Nickel/Edison Theatre, was in charge of movie programming. Live programming and roller skating also had their turns in the new facility at 601 W. Third Street. But that all ended on January 29, 1911 when the facility was gutted by fire. That building was repurposed as an automobile factory.
Fast forward to 1924 when the city finally got its dream to replace that auditorium on N. Hastings Avenue. Local architect Marcus Lindsey Evans drew the plans. Fred Hayter was still in charge of movie programming. However, it was Hostetler Amusement Circuit running the show essentially for Universal Pictures. Though the theatre launched informally with a speech and then formally on April 21, 1924 with Universal’s smash hit, “The Phantom of the Opera” starring Lon Chaney, the movie situation got complicated quickly.
A lawsuit challenging the film operation took place in 1924 as the Wurlitzer organ was en- route. It was a sticking point with the competitors in the space and one that found a sympathetic judge ruling that Hostetler couldn’t install the organ or run the theatre as of 1925. So the Auditorium would look elsewhere and the good news is that it lasted still operational and looking great into the 2020’s.
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