Boyd Theatre

1621 Harney Street,
Omaha, NE 68102

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BOYD'S Theatre; Omaha, Nebraska.

Named for James E. Boyd, mayor of Omaha 1881-1883 and governor of Nebraska (1891/1892-1893), the Boyd Theatre originally opened at the northeast corner of 15th Street and Farnam Street on October 12, 1881, but burned ten years later.

It was rebuilt immediately at the southeast corner of 17th Street and Harney Street, opening on September 3, 1891. In 1914 the Boyd Theatre was sold to the Burgess-Nash Co. who closed it on January 31, 1920 and razed it to build an annex to its department store. (See Lucille Barbe’s “A History of the Boyd Opera House in Omaha, Nebraska [University of Omaha, 1963, p. 166], Steve Millburg’s "Culture and the Fine Arts Got Early Start in Omaha” [Omaha World-Herald, August 18, 1985]; Jeffrey Spencer’s “Building for the Ages: Omaha’s Architectural Landmarks.” [Landmarks, Inc., 2003, p. 20.])

Contributed by Lou Rugani

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 15, 2013 at 2:16 am

This photo of the Boyd Theatre probably dates from the late 1890s or early 1900s. Using maximum zoom, it can be seen that the posters in front of the theater advertise Anna Held, who Florenz Ziegfeld brought to the United States in 1896.

The facade of the theater exemplifies the commercial phase of the Romanesque Revival style of architecture. An article about the soon-to-open theater in the August 31, 1891, issue of the Omaha Daily Bee said that the interior of the house was also done in what it called the “modern Romanesque” style.

The Boyd Theatre was designed in the St. Louis office of J. B. McElfatrick & Sons. This office was headed by John McElfatrick’s elder son, J. Morgan McElfatrick, who died August 28, 1891, a few days before the Boyd Theatre opened. He was 38 years old.

A scan of the Daily Bee article is online here as part of the Library of Congress’s “Chronicling America” collection.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 15, 2013 at 4:36 pm

I’ve found a couple of web sites (including Wikipedia’s article on downtown Omaha) that say the Boyd Theatre was demolished in 1920, but I’ve also found an announcement of the plans to demolish the theater in the May 23, 1914, issue of The American Contractor. The item said that preliminary plans for the addition to the C.B. Nash Co. department store to be built on the theater’s site were in progress.

dallasmovietheaters on December 5, 2022 at 7:41 pm

This was a legit, live theater from opening on September 3, 1891 to its closing on January 31, 1920. Likely seated 1,500 with all 1,500 opera seats available for sale in the salvage sale that began following the last show.

DavidZornig on December 5, 2022 at 7:50 pm

There is one April 8, 1917 print ad in the gallery indicating a multiple day showing of the silent film “A Daughter of the Gods”. I wonder how many other films were ever shown there before it’s closure.

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