Utah Theatre

148 S. Main Street,
Salt Lake City, UT 84101

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Showing 51 - 75 of 78 comments

drsevrin on July 2, 2007 at 6:36 am

I have a question for utahguy or jbd (or anyone for that matter). Do you recall if there were restrooms on the mezzanine level, or just up the stairs to the upper theatre, that were similarly ornate to the downstairs facilities? I recall the downstairs rooms fairly well but I have only a vague memory (or dream) of similar rooms off to the sides of the upper, balcony theatre. I know it’s odd to give much thought to a restroom, but such is the majesty of the Utah Theatre. Thanks.

drsevrin on July 2, 2007 at 6:23 am

I’m with you, abbeynormal. Trouble is, I don’t have $10+ million to spare. It is a bit strange to me that the theatre was operating without too much trouble into the early 90’s and now it needs $30-60 million to rennovate? I’m assuming the rennovation plan calls for removing the floor from the balcony to stage to create a single auditorium. But is this absolutely necessary? Why not do a minimal restoration, at least for now, so it is preserved? We’ve lost the Centre, the Villa (mostly), and many others – the Utah must be saved, somehow.

I also have great memories there from my college years in the 80’s. I think it could still thrive as a movie theatre, especially given there are no downtown options anymore except the bland multiplex over at Gateway – you know, the one that looks EXACTLY like the multiplex theatres at Jordon Landing, Jordan Commons, Century, etc. etc.. For me, moviegoing isn’t just about stadium seating and high-tech sound; it is about experiencing history – visiting these mythical film houses that hold so much magic and charm. Even the restrooms at the Utah had style.

Parking is perhaps a significant issue, but really, it’s not like we’re talking about New York. Salt Lakers need to get used to hoofing it for a block or two. Foot traffic is, after all, part and parcel of downtown revitalization. I hope and pray that HOWA will have sense of this history and not demolish it or sell it to an organization that plans to.

ghamilton on June 23, 2007 at 4:54 am

A group in Virginia has saved the NORVA theater in Norfolk and now is going to reopen the long closed NATIONAL in Richmond,Va.Go the the VA section and ck them out.I am not thrilled with the way the main floor is going to be at the National,but atleast it will be saved and used.I have wondered if a similar concert use could be a vehicle to save the UTAH.I loved the place in my college years in UT.There aren’t many grand places left that are worth saving,but the UTAH surely is.When I think of the long list of great theaters in SLC that are just GONE,it is a crime.I went to the grand BYRD theater in Richmond,Va Sat.night to se WILD HOGS (again),just to experience the thrill of a REAL,GRAND movie palace.We are so much the poorer for the lack of these experiences.

abbeynormalcats on June 22, 2007 at 5:50 pm

I finally found info about it on Grant Smith’s site, but still contact me with any info about preserving this treasure….


abbeynormalcats on June 22, 2007 at 4:53 pm

I used to work for Plitt Theatres in the late 70’s and early 80’s, who owned the Utah 1 & 2 (as it was called back then). But I worked across the street at the Utah 3 (which is now a vacant restaurant! :o().

But even as a kid, before it was split to 2 screens, I remember being impressed by the moldings and grandeur, that didn’t wane as I got older, if anything, it’s become a passion (and my mid-life crisis! lol ).

Seriously, something needs to be done NOW to save it. I couldn’t find any recent info on KSL’s site about the theater, just a small article from early 2006. I also couldn’t find any info on Grant Smith’s site???

Who do we need to get involved to save it? Believe me, it’s a dream of mine to see it restored. If I had the money, I’d be buying it in a heartbeat. I work downtown and pass by it every day. It breaks my heart to see it so derelict. Broken glass, broken light bulbs in the marquee, bums/homeless sleeping by the doors—on a regular basis.

How do other movie houses get saved? I’ve heard of movie stars getting involved, who do we contact? I have a friend who works behind the scenes in the local arts. When I’ve mentioned it to him, he says he’s heard it’s not structurally sound, and would need loads of bucks to renovate/bring up to code. That it would be cheaper to knock it down.

WE CAN’T LET THIS HAPPEN!! I’m all for getting involved, but will need help. Who’s with me?


drsevrin on May 27, 2007 at 2:01 am

I sure hope the LDS Church does get involved. Obviously it will now take their deep pockets to save this treasure from the wrecking ball. They’re certainly putting a lot of $$ into revitalizing the north end of downtown SLC, perhaps some of it can trickle south just a bit. If you can post a link to the KSL news article I’d love to read it, and I’m sure Grant Smith would like to link to it on his Utah Theaters site. Thanks.

ghamilton on May 15, 2007 at 11:29 pm

I saw a comment on the KSL news website that indicated this theater “may"be going to become part of the news "arts” district,with the realty arm of the LDS church getting involved.I hope that wasn’t just a puff of smoke.

drsevrin on April 25, 2007 at 4:04 am

Please check out Grant Smith’s great site for more detail about the Utah Theater: http://utahtheaters.info/Index.asp

The Utah Theatre is truly a place of myth and legend. That it now sits derelict with a “for sale” sign on it’s facade is a tragedy second only to the loss of the Villa and perhaps the old Century, if even that. I still feel the magic and mystery of this place, even as it sits dark, empty, and derelict – a true testament to it’s history. Ever see marble or stained glass in today’s multi-plexes?

I saw many movies here in the mid-80’s, after it had transitioned to an art-film house under Plitt’s ownership, and perhaps a few in the 70’s when it was mainstream. Few realize the Utah was one of Salt Lake’s premier art-movie houses during this period, along with the also long-defunct Blue Mouse. Today’s Salt Lake art-film patrons owe this grand old house a deep, deep debt of gratitude. I can only imagine what it must have been like before it was split in two.

Some of the films I saw at the Utah in the 80’s: Malcom, Straight to Hell, Tampopo, A Room with a View, Man Facing Southeast, Subway, Maurice, Salvador, The Moderns, Slam Dance, In Defense of the Realm, Gothic, High Tide, Sid and Nancy, Corrupt, and many others.

I find it criminal that owners of historic single family houses need approval from the historical society for so much as a repainting, yet something as magnificent and historically important as this theater can be bought, sold, and demolished without so much as the blink of an eye. If I had the money I would not hesitate to purchase and restore this magnificent movie house to its former glory. I pray it gets restored. If it doesn’t , I’ll hope for a brick and perhaps a few photographs … ;(

grimbasement on December 15, 2006 at 5:00 pm

Utah has an atrocious view of preserving history. If it’s not on Temple Square wave good bye. I work downtown and seeing the sign for theutahtheater.org really got me interested in the historic movie palaces. I’ve been on a docents theater tour in L.A. and was fascinated to see that downtown SLC had so many theaters it was almost like a mini LA back in the day. Now only 2 or 3 remain. So sad. For all the talk of revitalizing downtown SLC it’s hard to make block after block of office buildings a destination for the mini vans from the ‘burbs.

utahguy on October 2, 2006 at 1:16 am

I was an assistant manager at the Utah 1 & 2 in 1977. In the downstairs men’s room there was a locked door. Unlock the door and go through, there was another men’s room, covered in dust and obviously not used in decades. I’ve alway wondered why it was (and probably still is) there.

candygirl on September 7, 2006 at 5:06 am

It would be such a loss to Utah if we lose this amazing theatre to new construction! I worked at the Utah 1 & 2 Theatre’s as it was known in the late 70’s and I still remember patrons coming to the theatre for the first time and the awe! you would never know it looking in from main street. The long corridor which seemed to go on forever was covered in red carpet, I was told in the late 80’s they ripped it out revealing the beautiful marble that had been covered for decades. The theatre had a beautiful massive chandelier in the lobby and the ladies room had a large turn of the century fortune and weight machine, so cool! the theatre also had some very old vending machines hidden in various places and not in operation for a very long time I remember and they were still filled with the original novelty items. The basement where we had to change the coke tanks still had the dressing rooms from when it was live in the 20’s, we would stumble over tons and tons of one sheets getting to them, they were discarded down there after the movie was gone, wish I had all those right now! the managers office had some really neat one sheets too such as Gone With The Wind. I have very fond memories of the theatre as many others do too I’m sure, wish I could buy it! I hope somehow the Utah Historical Society can preserve this theatre as such, it would be a shame to see it go, it needs to reopen!jbd.

ghamilton on August 22, 2006 at 9:45 am

BAD news.The place now has a big for sale sign up.The owner wouldn’t come off a 10 mil asking price,so now it is all up in the air.This is a shame for the miriad of reasons to be expected.This was to be a center pc.of the new entertainment didtricr.Infighting has been brutal between certain civic forces and the blood spilled has poisoned the waters.

ghamilton on December 2, 2005 at 9:52 am

Better,more revealing article in the Tribune.

ghamilton on December 2, 2005 at 9:36 am

Big article in the AM Deseret News on the return of the consultant’s report with regards the fate of the UTAH.The idea that the house should be rehabbed into a 2,500 seat Broadway style venue was poopooed by the bean counters.They came back with a 800-1500 seat proposal.With the now-probable crime in making with the destruction of the Raymond,the importance of the few remaining great theaters becomes more critical.

sjensen3 on September 20, 2005 at 1:37 pm

The Orpheum at 132 South State Street operated as a movie theatre called the Lyric when I was growing up in Salt Lake in the 50’s and 60’s. In addition to the 8 downtown theatres listed by Chuck1231 there were two others that I remember: the State and the Gem, both on State Street as I recall. There is another big one at 253 South State Street that closed before 1958. It opened in 1908 and was called the Rex. It was later called the Strand. It has a large lobby that has been used in recent years as an art gallery. There were others too. See http://utahtheaters.info/TheaterList.asp

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 23, 2005 at 9:05 pm

Film Daily Yearbook;1941 and 1943 editions give a seating capacity of 1,823.

bruceanthony on August 23, 2005 at 7:40 pm

I have a question concerning the Utah, what would be its seating capacity if it was restored? I thought the Utah was larger than the Capitol theatre. The Capitol is a little on the small side for touring Broadway shows,producers like theatres with a seating capacity betweeen 2200-3000 on the road. I think the Utah is larger so it shouldn’t be such a problem to restore. The larger Utah would be able to attract more touring shows than the current Capitol theatre.brucec

ghamilton on August 20, 2005 at 7:01 pm

Gosh,Charles,you must be almost as old as me.As in Richmond,the enemy in SLC is the various egos and factions fighting for the soul of the town.Rocky is always the fly in the ointment.Right now,he thinks leading protest against Bush is his highest priority.Politics aside,his priorities are often a little strange,to say the least.There is an old fellow in SLC,one Harold Cowley,that used to manage some of those downtown venues.The stories he could tell were fantastic.During the sixties and 70’s there was no downtown that held a candle to SLC for compact,safe and varied theater district.

ghamilton on August 20, 2005 at 11:09 am

Article in a SLC paper today points out the ongoing struggle to save and rehab the Utah.A study due in Dec.will carry a lot of weight.A Broadway type venue is the dream of the ever weird mayor.The worry by the worried class is that there will be too few cultural dollars chasing too many venues in the downtown region.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 14, 2005 at 4:04 pm

I’m taking an educated guess here (not knowing Utah Theatre history that well) that the Orpheum Theatre at 132 South State Street built in 1905 was the first Orpheum Theatre in the city and was always a live venue (hence it won’t be eligable for inclusion on Cinema Treasures).

When the Pantages Theatre was built in 1919 it would have been a newer more splendid rival to the older Orpheum Theatre. I am guessing that the Orpheum eventually closed down and the Pantages took that name. By 1941 it was known as the Utah Theatre, operated by Paramount Pictures Inc. through their subsidairy Tracy Barham.

thespis on August 13, 2005 at 12:42 pm

“The Empress, later called the Uptown, was built in 1911 at 53 South Main Street. Top-quality vaudeville was introduced to Utah with the opening of the Orpheum Theatre at 132 South State on Christmas Day 1905. Designed by C.M. Neuhausen, the theater was opulently decorated and became a center for legitimate theater in Salt Lake City for many years.” From http://historytogo.utah.gov/theater.html

“The Utah Theater, 148 S. Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT, United States, also known as the Pantages and Orpheum, was built in 1919 for Vaudeville, Architect: B. Marcus Priteca” – from your description – am slightly confused………..

I also found this: http://www.theutahtheater.com/

On the arts-info site I am trying to provide a record of Haunted Theatres (those with some Live Theatre activity past or present rather than those constructed and used for Movies only), and I am trying to add from as many sources as possible a “potted biography” of the venue concerned to give people a sense of the background against which any alleged hauntings have taken place – so a clarification of the above would be much appreciated.


Derry Barbour, London. UK


ghamilton on March 28, 2005 at 2:45 pm

Cinema supporters should concentrate on saving the few grand houses that are both in pretty good shape and empty like the National in Richmond,the Raymond and the Utah.The resources and efforts should really focus to save the best.The National Trust should be enlisted to bring their PR clout to this effort.`

ghamilton on March 12, 2005 at 4:17 am

What a moron.He can’t spell film

ghamilton on March 12, 2005 at 4:16 am

Today’s Salt Lake papers carried stories that this place’s salvation may be to become the headquarters for Ballet West.The fate of this place has weighed on me for years.Before multi-screening,it was a grand facility.It has been sitting for a LONG time.I hope if the restoration and reuse proposed comes to reality,that consideration be made for multi-use,like flim festivals.What a venue for some of Sundance.I’d even travel from my home in VA for that.(not to join the crowd in Park City)

sdoerr on October 17, 2004 at 9:55 pm

wow, anyone have any recent interior pics/