Category Archives: Historic Theatres

Safford City Council approves fund-raiser for old theatre

[Source: Aimee Staten, Eastern Arizona Courier] — Nobody knows the ultimate fate of the old Safford Theatre on Main Street, but the City Council was willing to approve a Labor Day fund-raiser to aid in preservation of the building. The city of Safford conducted a study that found the structure unsafe in 2007, and the owners, David and Susan Duros, haven’t yet heard whether a grant to list it as a historic building and fund a historic preservation plan for the crumbling building has been approved. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Douglas community works to preserve once beautiful theater (op-ed)

[Source: Bonnie Henry, Daily Star] — I see a ruin — a gutted, roofless shell. They see progress — and a dream that refuses to die. In 1919, the Grand Theatre — billed as the finest theater between San Antonio and Los Angeles — opened in the mining town of Douglas. Managed first by Greek immigrant James Xalis, and soon after by his nephew, Daved Diamos, the theater seated 1,600 and boasted a marble lobby, a pipe organ and ladies’ tea room.

Pavlova and Ginger Rogers danced on its stage. John Philip Sousa performed here. For decades, graduating classes at Douglas High School held commencement exercises here. And then, as is the history of so many grand, old theaters, it fell into disuse and eventual abandonment. It closed in 1958. According to the Theatre’s website the roof collapsed in 1976. Trees eventually sprouted among the fallen timbers — too heavy to be removed. Water pooled on the auditorium floor. An owl took up residence, feasting on the pigeons inside. In 1983 the all-volunteer Douglas Arts and Humanities Association formed to save the building from slated demolition. By then, the theater had been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Douglas Arts and Humanities Association.]