Promised Valley Playhouse
132 S. State Street,
Salt Lake City,
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Originally known as the Orpheum Theatre, it opened on Christmas Day 1905, as Salt Lake’s first full-time vaudeville house and had a seating capacity for 1,160.
The theater, an excellent example of Second Empire Revival, was designed by architect Carl M. Neuhausen. A twelve foot statue of Venus tops its central section, while larger-than-life heads guard the front entry. The auditorium and main lobby have been refurbished several times. Except for the stage, little remains of the original building.
In 1918, the theater was converted to show movies and was known by several names including Loew’s Casino Theater which in 1919 was altered to the plans of architect Thomas Lamb. It was later renamed Wilkes Theater, Roxey Theater, Salt Lake Theater, and Lyric Theater from around 1947. The Lyric Theater had one of the first crying rooms in town, and even employed a registered nurse in its ladies room. In 1953, it was one of the first two theaters in Salt Lake to show widescreen movies with stereo sound.
In 1971 it closed as a movie theatre and, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints bought the theatre in 1972 and restored the building for church plays, renaming it the Promised Valley Playhouse.
In 1996, the theater closed because of structural problems. In 2000, the Church replaced the playhouse by building a new 911-seat theater as part of its new Conference Center.
Salt Lake County paid $50,000 for an architectural study, but voted on July 17 2001 against purchasing or leasing the theater because of the high cost of restoring it. The study concluded that restoration of the Orpheum Theater would cost between $2 million (for a basic seismic upgrade) and $30 million (for a full restoration).
Zions Securities, which owned the building, planned to demolish the auditorium and build a 400-car parking tower. It was demolished in 2003, the facade and lobby was preserved and used for office and retail space.
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