302 E. Smith Avenue,
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Functions: Community Center
Previous Names: Community Club Theatre, Community Theatre
The Anselmo Community Building was built in 1917 and 1918 opening on August 20, 1918 with a dance. 450 seats arrived soon thereafter and many community events were held and, due to the town’s size, everyone could have a seat. The Community Club, stockholders in the creation and operation of the building, secured the Paramount and Artcraft film contract offering films two days a week (Tuesdays and Saturdays) beginning March 8, 1915 under the Community Club Theatre moniker. The first advertised film was Victor Moore in “Snobs”.
A popular film brought back due to its interest was the Dempsey/Tunney prize fight highlight movie in 1927 as people wanted to see who should have won the fight after its controversial “long count” sequence. The first ten years of operation for the Community Club Theatre were its halcyon days film-wise but when sound came to the medium, the stockholders struggled. They finally decided to lease the facility to a third party, Rolli & Lacher, who promised to update the theatre to sound. They rebranded it as the Community Theatre beginning on March 16, 1929 with Clara Bow’s silent film, “Ladies of the Mob”.
When Rollia & Lacher didn’t convert the theatre to sound, Empfield and Baker took on the venue in 1930 purportedly converting it to the Vitaphone disc-based sound system. However, there are no films advertised for the venue until 1933. Trigging Dailard who took over the Wehrley Theatre in Arnold, Nebraska, also took on the Community Theatre reopening it on August 5, 1933 with Will Rogers in “Down to Earth”. The local paper was pleased to have a “competent” operator for the twice a week film screenings.
In 1936, films had been discontinued with the projectors removed though the venue was renamed the Anselmo Theatre. In 1939, Lester Harris - of the Halsey Sound Theatre, the Dunning Theatre and a theatre in Brewster - took on the Anselmo Theatre reopening it for films one night a week. That appears to have failed fairly quickly.
In 1946, the theatre had its last foray into movie theatre exhibition still as the Anselmo Theatre on a two-day a week policy on Sundays and Mondays. It ended on April 27, 1947 with Margaret O'Brien & Wallace Berry in “Bad Bascomb”. The town’s population had declined to under 400 and continued to drop making further movie exhibition a challenge. The Community Hall of Anselmo continued to host community events and was still standing over 100 years after its first event. Its population was just over 150 residents at that time.
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