I recently had the opportunity to tour the Utah Theatre that is on Salt Lake City’s Main Street, at about 150 South. It is a really awesome building. While on the tour I learned a lot about the history of the building. It was built as a Vaudeville Theatre in the early nineteen hundreds. Vaudeville means a variety show, that something I didn't know until the tour. Throughout its history the building has had a number of different uses. One of which was as a movie theater. As part of the movie theater renovation they added a second floor from the balcony which kind of destroyed a lot of the best features of the building.
I'll walk you through the tour as I explored it. First you walk in from the street into a very long hallway. This hallway is super beautifully. As I was walking through the hallway I could really just imagine the promenade of people dressed up in their best clothes coming down to see the show. I really love the deep red tones that were part of the hallway. The reason this hallway is so long is that it allowed there to be additional retail on the street front and not have one giant facade for just the theater. It really makes Main Street a nicer place to have those additional storefronts. One of my beefs with the new theater on Main Street is that it is a really long facade with very little active use.
From the entry hallway, then you enter the main lobby which is wonderful double-height space with balcony walkway. One of the things that was super interesting to me about the lobby is that there was not acoustic of separation from the lobby to the main hall of the theater. I don't know if that's because people expected noise during their show or if people were just super quiet when they were in the lobby when this theater was designed. Another cool feature from the lobby is the logo of the company that originally built the theater is in many of the decorations.
From the lobby you enter to the Main Theatre Hall. Because of the second floor that was added during the movie theater time it is impossible to grasp the original majesty of the space. You can see in this image the the steel beams for the second floor. Luckily, you can go up to the second floor and see the original ceiling. It is spectacular. The art glass centerpiece must have been really wonderful in its heyday.
From the main hall I went down underneath the stage and all the dressing rooms and the trap spaces. Sadly it was to dark down there to get any pictures, but really wonderful to see all the little rooms in the maze of spaces. You can really get the echos of main years for parties in those spaces.
This property is owned by the Salt Lake RDA. I don't know what the future holds for this building. The building is in really bad shape, many of the historic features have been at least partially destroyed. Also given its age I'm sure it is all unreinforced masonry, which would be super expensive to repair. Personally I love to be able to experience some of these historic spaces but at the same time I'd love to have super wonderful contemporary building in this location as well.