Liberty Theatre

110 Jerome Avenue,
Jerome, AZ 86324

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The Liberty is a extremely interesting, historic theatre is a extremely interesting historic Arizona mining town. It originally opened in 1918. Opening was delayed about a year due to the great flu epidemic. It ceased theatre operations about 1930 because the owner did not want to spend money for sound equipment.

The auditorium part became a virtual time capsule for years. The lobby and front part of the building was remodeled and leased out serving as a cafe, bar, and I believe chamber of commerce until recent years when it was remodelled again into a antique store. The Robert Morton pipe organ was not removed from the auditorium until about 1965 when it was removed and reinstalled in a Lutheran church in Phoenix.

The auditorium was apparently still usable as a theatre in the 70s because famed silent theatre organist Gaylord Carter brought in a electronic organ and played for silent films several times during the historic home tour days.

The current owner bought the building about two years ago and is also operating a antique store but has restored the balcony part and shows films on a sporadic basis. I am told the theatre has a extremely unique architectural design. Jerome is built on the side of a steep mountain. Patrons purchased tickets at a street level box office (balcony level) and then had to walk down a walkway to the main auditorium. I believe the main auditorium floor has been leveled and used as a store. Only the balcony has been reopened for film purposes.

I would love to hear from other members who have more information, photos, etc. of this theatre or another Jerome theatre, the Ritz/Lyric.

Contributed by Don Story

Recent comments (view all 20 comments)

shoeshoe14
shoeshoe14 on February 5, 2008 at 2:23 pm

I came across this theatre in a magazine called “Route 66 Pulse” out of New York State, dedicated to preserving Route 66 as a destination. There are ads from the entire route and last issue there was a small piece on Jerome which was revitalized by hippies and artists in the sixties. They of course mentioned this theatre – “Jerome is also home to a Cinema Museum housed in the old Liberty Theatre that opened in 1918 and closed in 1929. It is a working theatre today.

thegrinch
thegrinch on May 7, 2008 at 10:05 pm

Patsy (and Cinema Treasures fans) I believe Bob Altherr the current owner has the eagle figure which fell off the front of the building and sustained some damage. A friend is going to repair it and rehang it I believe. I haven’t been to Jerome in over a year so don’t know if that has happened. The interior is a mixture of fairly accurate restoration of the 1918 decor and design as far as the old balcony area (which is now the only part used as a theatre) and the main floor has undergone several redos such as having the floor flattened and the old stage area removed. It is a gift shop now and used to access the balcony for movies. Bob also wants to restore the original scallop style front above the original box office area.

Patsy
Patsy on May 8, 2008 at 6:49 am

Don Story: Thanks for the “eagle eye” update on this one in AZ.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 8, 2008 at 6:56 am

I took 66 from LA to Chicago two years ago. I don’t remember seeing Jerome at all, which is odd. I did take the spur that goes through Oatman, so that may be the reason. Anyway, here is a site with more photos:
http://tinyurl.com/6q5us9

Patsy
Patsy on May 8, 2008 at 7:04 am

ken mc: Thanks as THAT JEROME LINK IS QUITE INFORMATIVE! Theatre history AND hotel history!

Patsy
Patsy on May 8, 2008 at 7:11 am

ken mc: I just sent the Jerome hotel an email requesting a brochure!!

thegrinch
thegrinch on May 8, 2008 at 5:36 pm

Patsy and Cinema Treasures folks – The old Grand Hotel is a great place to stay and EAT while in Jerome. When I last stayed there not all room are air conditioned so if you stay there in the hotter months you might want to be sure and get a room with a/c. The valley view from the hotel of the Verde Valley is pretty spectacular too. The old elevator is straight out of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” so practice your Charleston steps! The Haunted Hamburger cafe right by the turnoff to go to the hotel is a great place for lunch and supper if you don’t want to splurge at the gourmet restaurant at the hotel.

Patsy
Patsy on May 9, 2008 at 3:37 am

Don Story: The Haunted Hamburger Cafe?

thegrinch
thegrinch on May 9, 2008 at 8:38 pm

Patsy – Yes, the Haunted Hamburger. The folks in Jerome love to capitalize on their ‘ghost town’ heritage! A lot of the little businesses in town have some reference to ghost in their names. The Haunted Hamburger also has great views of the Verde Valley from the dining room and is propped up on stilts as I recall like so many of the homes and businesses in Jerome. Don

pleasefeedthedog
pleasefeedthedog on February 12, 2009 at 4:49 pm

small update: I was just in the Liberty today and the owners son said that they should have the digital projection up and working for this weekend. Apparently its a small documentary on the history of the theater. That would make for a special ghostly lovers tour since it will be Feb 14, 2009 a day after Friday the 13th. Neat town.

I just realized the weather forecast probably won’t make for a easy ride this Sat. Jerome is up ‘round 5000’

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