Designed by renowned theater architect, S. Charles Lee, the Huntridge Theater was built between 1942 and 1944. It opened on October 10, 1944. It's Streamline Moderne style and neon pylon sign were eye-catching in the small town of Las Vegas where the majority of buildings were only two-stories.
Owned in part by Classic Film Era Film Stars Irene Dunn and Loretta Young, the Huntridge was built to accommodate the employees of the various factories who worked eight hour shifts around the clock.
Next door was the Huntridge Station Post Office and the neighborhood that was built behind the theater became known as Huntridge. After the War, Lloyd Katz and his wife Edythe, were hired to manage and run the theater. Katz had been a movie promoter in Los Angeles and brought with him his Rolodex filled with names of celebrities. When "Suddenly" premiered, Frank Sinatra (the film's star) sold tickets from the enclosed box office and was photographed with swooning women clamoring to buy tickets.
As the neighborhood behind the theater began to grow, the theater became known for playing family oriented films. Many students from Las Vegas High School, including former Lt. Governor Lorraine Hunt and KLAS General Manager Bob Stoldal, worked as ushers there when they were teenagers. Saturday matinees, Disney animated features and serials such as Superman all played at the Huntridge. When I was a kid, I think a movie there cost $.25 and my folks knew I would be there all afternoon!
While St. Anne's Church was being built at Maryland Parkway and Oakey Blvd, the Huntridge hosted the weekly Sunday Mass for parishioners.
Unlike other theater owners in town, the Katz's were opposed to segregation of any kind and because of that, they did not enforce any sort of seating policy where African-Americans had to sit in specially designated sections.
But as the town grew, the neighborhood changed and multi-plexes became the rage. The Huntridge Theater began to look more than a tad long in the tooth. It closed for a time in 1977 and reopened as Revival House for classic films in the early 1980s. It's large, roomy auditorium was cut in half to accommodate two screens. Finally, after years as a second and third run theater, the Huntridge was transformed into the Huntridge Theater for the Performing Arts. It was a very successful concert and theater venue during this incarnation.
The Huntridge stage hosted diverse events from children's theatre, Mexican comedy and dance concerts, to choir recitals and church services. The Theatre also functioned in its original role as a movie theatre, holding screenings for events such as the Las Vegas Parks & Recreation's Summer Saturday Matinee Series, SPIKE & MIKE'S Animation Festival.
It was home to the first year of the CINEVEGAS Film Festival. But the Huntridge Performing Arts Theatre was mainly known as Las Vegas's premiere all-ages Alternative music venue.
However, it was not to last. In 2004, the curtain came down on the successful venue. The theater was sold to a local businessman (who owns the mattress store next door). He talked of reviving the theater and applied for grants to restore the theater to its former grandeur. From 1993 to 2001, more than a million dollars in grants were awarded to the owners of the Huntridge (both the Friends of the Huntridge and the current owner).
Adaptive Re-use of The Huntridge Theater
On August 13, LeavingLV.net was invited to join in the unveiling of plans by the owner, Eli Mizrachi. The plan for the property is amazing and we back it 100%!
Mr. Mizrachi discusses his long awaited plans.
It includes the preservation of The Huntridge, the bank, and the post office. All will be combined into one complex and the streamline moderne/deco theme will be carried around the entire project. Unfortunately, it's not feasible to save the auditorium or use it as a functioning performing arts theater. Instead, Eli proposes a mixed use retail project. The auditorium would be remodeled and partitioned to include office, retail, and adaptive space. A second floor would be added and make use of the interior of the domed roof, which would be very unique! The lobby would be the thoroughfare to the other retail existing inside the bank and post office.
This adaptive reuse is the most logical solution, and the first realistic and viable plan for the property we've seen to date. We wish him much luck in this amazing project and offer our support and help in any way! This includes you guys! We need to help support the businesses that make their homes there, as well as get the word out that there may be space available in this historic building. What an opportunity!
The following are the beautiful earliest approved renderings of what he has envisioned: