Crystal Skydome

La Belle, MO 63447

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Holmes' Opera House opened on November 30, Leo H. Mulinex programmed Holmes' Opera House in downtown La Belle, Missouri. He renamed it as the Crystal Theatre in 1914 moving to full-time movies (it has its own page on Cinema Treasures). Due to poor ventilation on the second-floor facility, Mulinex added an airdome called the Crystal Skydome opening for the season May 9, 1914 with two Mutual shorts - 30 minutes of entertainment shown with a single Motiograph projector and an electric piano.

Skydome was located on an adjoining lot between the Opera House and the Farmers and Merchant Bank for summer operation. Schell Scenic Studios of Columbus, Ohio, which had done so much interior work in theatres all over the United States, provided the oil painted scenery of La Belle’s airdome.

The Skydome had finished its fourth season in 1917 and the Crystal Theatre hardtop was back in service for regular non-summer operation. But on October 12, 1917, disaster struck. Just prior to a sold out showing of “Battle Cry of Peace” with a full, live orchestra, a fire broke out on the first floor in the Bohon’s Café restaurant consuming the entire building and spreading to the Skydome destroying both operations.

The fire then spread to the bank and turned to Pomeroy Street taking out the Skirvin Department Store. The local accounts said the loss of the Skirvin hurt the most - odd given losing a bank, two theatres and a popular restaurant. But had they only saved Skirvin’s, the populace would have been much less devastated.

Instead of rebuilding the airdome and hardtop entertainment venues, operator Leo Mulinex decided to retire on the spot. The fact that only 25% of the Crystal Theatre and Crystal Skydome operation was covered by insurance may not have helped.

Contributed by dallasmovietheaters
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