The following article appeared in the Anaconda Standard on Thursday, September 24, 1936, announcing the opening of the Washoe Theater:
Doors Of Finest Theater Of Size To Be Opened To Patrons Tonight
Masterfully Decorated Interior of Building. Will Thrill Proud Residents; Three Shows Arranged.
A new chapter in the theatrical history of Anaconda, now in its fifty-third year, will be written tonight when the doors of the new Washoe Theater are opened to its first patrons—Smelter City residents—who are boasting proudly of the new addition to the community’s entertainment sphere.
The theater, its massive walls erected on the site of the old Margaret showhouse, which for 30 years was the center of entertainment in this city, was built at the cost of approximately $200,000. This large expenditure is not only an expression of confidence in the economic future of the community but gives Anaconda the finest showhouse of any city of its size in the country.
From the smallest article of furniture to the magnificent stage, from the smallest light fixture to the handsome chandelier, the best obtainable and the most modern has been placed in the new building. Added to its exquisite lighting, its beautiful furnishings and elaborate decorations are the latest in sound equipment and picture projection, machines.
In finishing the interior of the structure, which was built in 1931, Joseph A. English, manager of the theater for the Washoe Amusement Company, sought and demanded the best. As a result, the Washoe becomes the peer of theaters in Montana and a model for others to follow throughout the country.
Manager English selected for the opening picture “The Texas Rangers” King Vidor’s historical epic of the men who molded a state from the territory of Texas. This picture has a general appeal. It featured an all-star cast headed by Fred MacMurray and Jack Oakie. Included in its headliners is Jean Parker, a Montana contribution in filmdom.
The doors of the theater will open at 6:30 o’clock for the first show. The box office will open at 6 o’clock. Two other shows will follow at 8:30 and 10:30 o’clock. The three shows were arranged to permit thousands to attend the first night. The theater will seat 1,000 persons in roomy and comfortable seats.
The last details for the opening of the new theater were finished yesterday. There will be no formal opening. The welcome and greetings of the Washoe Amusement Company will be carried in a feature “trailer” on the screen. The board of directors of the company is composed of Albert Nadeau, president; Mrs. M. Rimboud, vice president, and J.A. English, secretary, and treasurer. A history of the theatrical enterprises of this city, an interpretation of the decorations of the new theater, and a description of the sensational Mirrophonic sound, apparatus, and projection machines appear in other pages of this theater edition.
The depression postponed the opening of the new theater until this fall. The new showhouse is a step from the Sundial theater which was destroyed by fire in 1929. The old Margaret theater was revamped in 1927 at the cost of $60,000 to become the ill-fated Sundial. The Washoe becomes the third theater to occupy that particular site.
The new building was designed by that master architect, B. Marcus Priteca. He has designed many of the famous theaters of the west coast.
The building was erected by Gus Forseen, Missoula contractor, who also built the Junior high school. Decoration work was done under the direction of Nat Smythe. Mural paintings in the theater are by that young, talented painter, Colville Smythe.
The Electrical Research Products corporation, distributors of Western Electric sound equipment, was called in at the time plans were made for construction. This action has given Anaconda, one of the few theaters built as a perfect instrument for sound pictures.
Heaton Randall, Salt Lake City, representative of the National Theater Supply company, carried out his firm’s contract for the finishing of the theater. Mr. Randall has constantly been on the job, directing this important phase of the new theater. He left nothing undone to give Anacondans one of the finest theaters for its size in the country today.
Many thrills are in store for the patrons of the theater. Not only will they be strongly impressed with the elaborate decorations of the theater, but they will be thrilled by the clarity and closeness of the pictures on the screen and the true-tone sound development.
Anacondans have eagerly awaited the opening of the showhouse. They will be joined tonight and this week by hundreds of visitors from nearby communities in attending the first picture in the finest theater in the Treasure state.