Unique Theater Needs Help

posted by salidaresident on February 28, 2007 at 5:00 am

SALIDA, CO — The Unique Theater in Salida, Colorado may be destroyed to make way for another restaurant in the small mountain town. Recently, the theater was offered for sale due to structural concerns. During which time, the town council was approached requesting the 100-year-old theater be made into a historical landmark. The town council voted down the request giving the developer the possibility of destroying the theater portion while still applying for historical grants for the front area.

The current owner of the theater, John Groy, does not want the theater to be torn down, but does not have the funds to keep it going. A developer in the area is the only one offering funds and “expects” he may have to destroy the 100-foot theater section. He plans to turn the front area into a possible nightclub or restaurant, and more than likely will not continue it as a theater even if the 100 foot section is saved.

Groy would consider other offers to keep the theater going.

The Unique Theater truly stands up to its name, and one of the last of its kind in the area. It would be a sad blow to history to loose the landmark and heritage the theater has created over the years.

Save the Unique Theater! (the only Unique Theater in the search that still stands..)

The most recent article links -
Mountain Mail #1

Mountain Mail #2

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Comments (8)

floridachalet on March 1, 2007 at 1:18 am

We mihgt be able to help., contact at

salidaresident on March 1, 2007 at 7:26 am

The person who owns the theater is

John L Groy (BV) – 719.395.2297

Rumor is the deal was closed Friday. If that is the case the person to contact would be Bobby Hartslief  (I don’t have his number).

floridachalet on March 2, 2007 at 7:33 am

I had sent my email as stating we would be more then happy to do the repairs etc, no emails or phone calls, thanks

EarleK on March 2, 2007 at 6:59 pm

Partial demolition of the Unique Theater in historic downtown Salida could begin as soon as Monday, March 5. Here is the background from my point of view as an advocate for historic preservation who has attended the public meetings. The City closed the building in August 2006 and ordered the owner of many years to make needed repairs for the sake of safety. To assist the owner, the City and its Historic Preservation Commission landmarked the structure for its historical significance as the Salida Opera House (1888) and its potential as a contributing structure to the Downtown National Historic District. The City then applied to the State historical fund for an emergency structural assessment grant. That grant request was denied. Then the City ordered an inspection of the building by the fire department, building inspector and an engineer. The result was a determination that the roof and walls containing the theater portion (back 2/3rds, approximately 100 feet of the building) was in “imminent” danger of collapse and on Feb. 8, the City closed the alley behind the theater and warned adjacent property occupants of the danger. Soon thereafter the City held at least two public meetings and then initiated court proceedings to demolish the offending portion of the building and recover damages from the owner. In the meantime, about mid-February, the property sold. The new owner applied to the City’s Historic Preservation Commission and received permission for partial demolition on Feb. 22 following a public hearing. During the hearing, the new owner said he wanted to save the front 1/3 of the building containing the theater lobby and a large second floor meeting room that has been unused for decades since the windows and entire front facade was stuccoed over sometime in the 1960s. Restoration of the facade could return the building to its original appearance and make it a contributing structure in the downtown historic district. Concerning the theater portion of the building, the owner said he was working with the City to get it stabilized as soon as possible. After that he was open to ideas for future interior adaptations, including live theater, using as much as possible of the original materials.

EarleK on March 5, 2007 at 7:28 am

Stabilizing work should start today. The City of Salida planner just told me they need to relocate electrical service first and then prepare the site to install girders to prop up the walls from the outside. That work is supposed to be finished March 16. Then the roof can be taken off, which should be finished by March 23. In the meantime, community efforts are underway to raise money to save the theater based on whatever new information comes to light. Please, everyone—anyone—let us know if you are interested.

EarleK on March 6, 2007 at 12:55 pm

UPDATE: Unique Theater (1888 Salida Opera House) Salida, Colorado

The City of Salida, Colorado will loan as much as $125,000 for two years to the new owner of the Unique Theater to stabilize the walls of the historic landmark by March 16 and remove the damaged roof by March 23, according to an agreement ratified last night (Mar 6) by city council.

The back portion of the building, which contains the 650-seat theater, was condemned Feb. 8 when City officials and a structural engineer inspected and reported it was in “imminent danger of collapse.” Adjacent property owners and businesses were warned and several have closed until the threat is lifted.

Meanwhile citizens interested in saving the historic building have called a second meeting for 7 p.m. tonight (Mar 6) at Victoria Tavern, another 19th Century building within the City’s downtown national historic district. If the community will help raise money, the new owner said he would wait until August 15 to exercise his option to demolish.

The City’s Historic Preservation Commission gave permission for partial demolition of the affected building following a well-attended public hearing Feb. 22.

The front portion of the building appears structurally sound with potential for adaptive reuse. It includes the lobby flanked by storefronts and a large second floor meeting room that has been sealed off and unused for perhaps 50 years. A coat of stucco applied sometime during the 1960s conceals all the original brick on the front façade and the tall, arched windows in the second floor. Ironically, the stucco job that was meant to beautify the structure now prevents the building from contributing to the downtown historic district and from competing successfully for public funds for its rehabilitation.

The building opened in 1889 as the Salida Opera House with the upstairs meeting hall used by the local Masonic order. Built of brick, it replaced the wood opera house consumed by fire the year before. Local preservationists hope to find photographs of the front façade. Only one historic illustration of the front is known to exist at the Denver Public Library. It shows a wide-arched entrance flanked with storefronts and the tall second floor windows. The original cornice and pediment at the roofline are the only remaining visual elements of the original theater on the exterior.

Unfortunately, decades of deferred maintenance have rendered the interior of the theater unlovely, and now, unsafe. Most original detail has been lost because it was modernized several times as a movie theater under the name Empress, Osnos, Salida Theater and finally, the Unique. Triangular steel brackets were installed sometime in 1980s to buttress the roof and ceiling where it meets the walls.

pianist on April 3, 2007 at 4:00 pm

Important meeting this Thursday, April 5, at 6:00 p.m. at the Salida Public Library (note change of venue from previous announcements) hosted by the Central Colorado Performing Arts Center to get to work on possibly saving the Unique Theater, formerly the Salida Opera House. Everyone is invited to attend this meeting, bringing your talents and be prepared to begin work on this community project. This meeting is pivotol in our decision making to proceed with our
intended purpose of giving direction to this multi-faceted endeavor.

posted by Jo Boatright on April 3, 2007

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