Airdome Follies Theatre
129 S. 1st Street,
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Previous Names: El Patio Airdome Theatre, El Patio Open Air Theater, Airdome Theatre
There appear to have been four airdomes in Downtown Las Vegas. The first was back in the early-1910’s. The second was a 1,000-seat structure was located where the El Portal Theatre took its place (it has its own entry under Airdome Theatre). The third is this entry and was variously called the El Patio Airdome, El Patio Open Air Theatre, Airdome Theatre, and the Airdome Follies Theatre. And the fourth airdome was not a movie venue and was a dance space for the Elks Club called the Elkdome.
This venue was located at S. 1st Street and Carson Street and like the previous Majestic Green Airdome / Airdome Theatre served a warm weather alternative to the ventilation-challenged Majestic Theatre. The El Patio Open Air Theatre launched May 16, 1929 with the play “Kempy” and a film on May 17, 1929 with a silent version of Frank Capra’s “Submarine”.
Manager William Streett rolled movie cameras out to record the opening of the new El Patio Airdome. They were shown a week later to El Patio Airdome patrons. Matinee performances at the open air theatre featured live vaudeville acts including, “The Mysterious She”, demonstrating blindfolded car driving, and “Alandale, the Miracle Man”. Discount tickets could be obtained at the venerable White Cross Drug Store on Fremont Street. Silent films were played in the evening.
In 1931, the venue was renamed the Airdome Follies Theatre and continued showing silent films. As the only Airdome / Open Air theatre in Las Vegas, new manager Brown decided to improve the presentations by obtaining RCA Photophore sound equipment and playing “Sailor Behave” with Olsen and Johnson on June 20, 1931. On April 8, 1932, the venue opened as the Airdome Theatre for its final season of operation with “War in China,” Billie Dove in “Age for Love” and a live play, “The Mystery Heirs”.
But a month into the season, the opening of the all-weather Palace Theatre less than a block away on May 5, 1932 - along with improvements at the nearby El Portal Theatre - likely took a toll on the viability of an Airdome in Downtown Las Vegas. The Airdome closed at the end of the season and was razed. Its former spot is familiar, however, and can be found in the general vicinity of the Golden Nugget Las Vegas casino.
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