New stewards for Needles Theater

posted by rodneym on July 17, 2006 at 6:58 am

NEEDLES, CA — Built in 1929 by the Masonic Order who occupied the second floor, the Needles, CA theatre was in operation on the ground floor for 63 years until 1992 when the building’s roof caught fire. The building has been vacant ever since.

In ‘97, the Mason’s gave it to the Needles Area Chamber of Commerce, who, with the best intentions, started a pre-restoration cleanup. Activities ceased due to funding issues and the deaths of two who spearheaded the project.

In June 2006, my wife and I purchased the building from the Chamber and have begun some exterior restoration work, including scraping and coating the entire building with an elastomeric paint, encouraged by the double thumbs up from almost everyone who passes by. After dangling from a 40' boom lift for 6 hours/day for 8 days when temperatures exceeded 115 in the shade, the exterior is much improved.

A new roof was constructed prior to our acquisition, but the interior remains greatly damaged from the fire and the water from the fire suppression efforts. We intend to preserve the theater room and stage while renovating three office/retail/coffee shop(?) spaces up front. We have interest from a local radio station to conduct a live show from the theater at some future time.

We are working on a thin shoestring and in need of materials, finances, or just moral support. The theater was the soul of the city and defined the character of its citizens. If anyone can suggest grants sources, contacts for free materials (350 seats, curtains, etc), or words of advice, please contact me at , or stop by (I’m the one dangling from 40' up with a roller in hand …)

Comments (1)

KenLayton on July 17, 2006 at 7:06 am

This is very good news indeed! I wish you good luck and much success with this project. If there are no large chain-owned theaters in your area, I’ve heard that Regal Cinemas has sometimes donated equipment (projection, sound, seats, concession, etc.) to projects like this. You need to contact Regal Cinemas corporate HQ in Knoxville, Tennessee and talk to the west coast operations person about getting a donation. Regal just donated some equipment to the single screen Roxy Theater in Morton, Washington (check out their theater at

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