Plains Theatre

114 N. Main Street,
Roswell, NM 88202

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Showing 23 comments

robboehm on October 24, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Just saw a piece on Mysteries at the Museum on the Travel Channel which mentioned this venue and showed some of the exhibits.

rbrtptrck on August 14, 2012 at 2:49 pm

My memories of theatres in Clovis and Roswell in the 1950s

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on November 24, 2010 at 7:42 pm

From 1957 a photo postcard view of Main Street along with the Plains Theatre in Roswell.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 7, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Photos of the Plains and three other Corgan-designed theaters appeared in Boxoffice of December 6, 1947. The other houses featured in the article are the Agnew and May theatres in Oklahoma City, and the Boomer, Norman, Oklahoma.

jawharding on May 28, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Does anyone know when the Plains theater showed it’s last film, excluding the Spanish films? Thanks.

boyde on February 7, 2010 at 3:09 pm

I worked at the Plains theater (worked the concession, took tickets, ushered and changed the marquis) in part of 1952 and 1953. The Plains theater was managed by Mike Allred. Boyd Scott was general manager over all of the theaters in Roswell.
I started out working for Buddy at the Twilight drive in theater, located southeast of town. His last name might have been Hale.
I met my wife Peggy at The Plains where she worked p/t while attending business college. She worked with a very nice girl (in the ticket booth) by the name of Ruby.
I was a S/Sgt. at Walker AFB and worked p/t for the extra money and to stay busy
Boyd Scott attended our wedding. He had been good enough to overlook the rule that you could not date and work at the same theater.
Upon discharge, we moved to Albuq for ten years and on to Illinois where we currently live. We have not been to Roswell for ten years.
All of the people associated with the Plains were fine people and I respected them very much. (Thank you Ken for the photo of the Plains theater. It is just like I remember it)..
The only movie I really remember (because it played over and over and over) was Ichabod Crane and Mr. Toad.
If anyone knows anything about the above people, please email me

Rowland L. Tessier III
Rowland L. Tessier III on November 3, 2009 at 6:48 pm

I remember repairing the Plains Theater sign many times. My grandfather built quite a few of Theater Enterprises signs from 1947 to around 1955. He owned Tesco Neon in Roswell. Theater Enterprises was a Dallas Texas based theater company. If I remember correctly, they had an operating company called Frontier Theaters that took care of the West Texas and New Mexico part of their business. Of those that Tesco neon built were the Plains and Yucca in Roswell. The Yucca was demolished. The Cavern in Calsbad, NM which is closed but still standing. The Lea in Lovington, NM which is still in operation. The Frontier in Hobbs, NM which is gone now, and the State Theater in Pecos, Texas. All of these signs were built utilizing porcelan enamel panels. The attraction panel section was made out of opal glass behind an Bevelite Adler frame to support clip on letter fonts. These signs are all around 60 years old and the ones that are still standing look as good as the day they were manufactured because of the porcelan enameling process. I am sure there were others, but these I remember having to
work on. Would love to have a photo of the Yucca.

kencmcintyre on May 14, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Here is another view of the museum:

RJT70mm on April 13, 2009 at 11:06 am

In the summer of 1963 my family and I visited my grandmother who lived in Roswell. My brother and I went to see “the Thrill of it All” with Doris Day and James Garner. I’m not sure if the theatre was the Yucca or the Plains. There was a small balcony and instead of using film date strips for the trailer (“Bye Bye Birdie”) there were light boxes under the screen with backlit titles that flashed on and off.
I asked to visit the booth but the manager wouldn’t let me ( I was 15). I peeked in the portholes and I think they had Peerless Magnarcs on E7’s. I also think there were magnetic penthouses. I could be wrong about all of this. It was a few years ago.

kencmcintyre on June 27, 2008 at 10:11 am

I posted kind of a grainy photo on 3/23/07 that shows the booth, as far as i can tell.

josefree on June 27, 2008 at 9:26 am

All of my childhood movie going experiences were at the Plains. One aspect of the theater that has been changed is the ripping out of the exterior ticket booth, which was one of the defining aspects of the theater. I would love to see a photo of the Plains with the ticket booth.

rbrtptrck on June 15, 2008 at 10:09 am

I was ticket-taker/usher/popcorn boy at four of Roswell, New Mexico’s five Main Street movie theatres in 1954-55. Well, the Yucca was just off of Main Street. The Yucca, the Plains, the Pecos, and the Chief were under one management. We ushers were shifted from one to the other when needed. I principally worked the Yucca. Its lobby was small but rather glorious, with Art Deco carpeting and indirect neon lighting. The most popular movie we had was “Magnificent Obsession,” the only movie we ran for a full week. Other than that, the most popular movies were the big westerns in color, which were treated almost as civic events. They mostly showed at the Plains. People who lined up after church to catch the first Sunday showings of these westerns on cold days were served coffee from a chuck-wagon, and local “old-west” survivors entertained them and pan-handled them. The Yucca and the Plains showed the “major” first-run movies. The Chief showed “B” movies of the classier kind (which mostly meant that they were in color, most often in some color process other than Technicolor) and now and then a “hold-over” movie, that is, a hit which moved from the Yucca or Plains for a second run. I believe the Chief’s admission price was cheaper. The Pecos mostly showed double bills for kids, that is, westerns and silly comedies which packed the brats in on weekends. It also showed the occasional “adult” movie, something with a sexy angle, a nudist “health” movie or something with a title like, “Child Bride.” An “Adults Only” sign meant only that kids who wanted to see these basically rather prudish “sex” movies had to pay adult fare. During the week and at night, the Pecos was largely considered to be, if I may use the language of the day, “for Mexicans,” who were not made to feel very welcome in the other theatres. This meant that we ushers weren’t expected to keep it very clean (Mexicans were considered to have lower standards, you see), and that we were to ignore drunkenness and sex in the back rows on the part of Latino customers (being poor migrant workers, they often had no other place to drink or date). Also, although there was no smoking section in the Pecos, we ignored back-row marijuana smoke. Only if violence broke out, which it not infrequently did, were we to intervene and/or call the cops. I don’t think blacks were allowed in the movie theatres at all, but I may be wrong. They may have just been made to feel so unwelcome on the Main Street that they just didn’t come. I know that we had no orders to turn them away. When the black-cast “Carmen Jones” showed at the Plains, a special two-or-three row section was roped off at the very rear of the auditorium to allow blacks to see it. The most interesting movie theatre in town was the El Capitan (named for a nearby mountain peak), across the street from the Pecos. Independently-owned by a very stern-looking matron, it was obviously an un-remodeled silent theatre, with speakers hanging on each side of the screen rather than behind it. Also, the owner had never bothered to spruce up the front or add a marquee. Movies were advertised with posters in standup frames such as one sees in photos of silent movie houses. This theatre survived by showing, for instance, the Disney movies, whose high rental the main chain refused to pay, and questionable movies like “The Outlaw” with Jane Russell and “Stromboli” with Ingrid Bergman, which the main chain wouldn’t show because Ingrid Bergman had gotten pregnant out of wedlock. Although ticket-selling was definitely considered “women’s work,” The El Capitan owner hired moonlighting young men from the local Air Force base as ticket-sellers, and had no ushers and sold no popcorn or candy. These deviations from the norm made the place vaguely “suspect” and “weird” in the 1950s, when ANY deviation from the norm freaked people out. But El Capitan also showed the few re-runs which the studios released back then, a blessing for young movie-buffs like me. None of my friends would attend it with me. However, it prospered. All five of these theatres, within a four-block radius, played two bills of movies a week (the Pecos, Chief and Capitan double-bills), at least twice a day. The Plains also had a “Midnight Preview” at 12 pm on Saturday night of the feature it was to open the next day, hopefully to keep the teenagers and Air Base boys off of the streets and out of trouble. All these performances prospered, believe me. I’m amazed when I realize how many people must have seen all or most of the sixteen feature films thus offered per week (and that’s before the local drive-ins opened!). The movies really were at least as pervasive a cultural force as church and schools!

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on June 15, 2008 at 8:00 am

Hello Bob of Roswell. Thanks and I would like to take you up on your Yucca photo offer.


rbrtptrck on June 14, 2008 at 5:24 pm

I have a photo of the Yucca Theatre in Roswell (124 E. 3rd St.,by the way) in 1950. Leave your e-mail address here if you’d like a jpg of it.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on May 1, 2008 at 7:47 pm

A 1988 view of Plains Theater in Roswell here and here.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on October 6, 2006 at 3:43 pm

A rare photo I took before the UFO craze in Roswell

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on January 25, 2006 at 9:57 am

Hey Steve…..Cinema Tour has the Yucca in Roswell listed at 124 W. 3rd. Unfortunately there is no other info except that it has been demolished.

medifx on January 25, 2006 at 9:34 am

My father, Stanley Irons, worked at the Yucca Theater when he was in high school (1935-1939). I passed through Roswell recently and thought that this theater must be the Yucca, but apparently I was incorrect. Does anyone know anything about the Yucca?

GaryParks on June 18, 2004 at 12:52 pm

I remember taking one photo of this theatre in 1981 as my folks and I drove through Roswell on a six-week trip around the US. The exterior of the theatre was intact, though a little faded, and was showing Spanish language films.

A few years ago I was able to buy a copy of Theatre Catalog for 1947-48, and the Plains is the subject of a nice article, with photos. The interior of the theatre was extremely plain, but looked comfortable. The fine moderne exterior appears to have changed not at all between its opening and my 1981 photo. I have seen one photo of how it looks today as the UFO Museum, and as far as I can tell the exterior has been totally respected, with a sign for the museum occupying the reader boards on the marquee, and no other changes. As for the interior, it’s likely altered, but there wasn’t much to alter to begin with, at least aesthetically.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on June 18, 2004 at 10:25 am

The Plains Theatre was designed by Jack Corgan in 1946 for Theatre Enterprises. It was built of reinforced concrete. The Plains seated approximately 1000 on its main floor. At one side of the projection booth was a cry room and on the other -due to the regrettable segregation laws of the time- were 30 seats for “colored” patrons.

A triangle marquee and an elegant vertical sign were the main architectural features.