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Historic Theatre in Needles

 

Needles Historic Theatre, Needles, California

Vintage postcard of the Needles Historic Theatre, Burton Frasher, 1941

The building was built in 1929 by the Masonic Order at an estimated cost of $120,000. The order occupied the second floor and leased the theatre space on the main level. Two shops were initially housed on the first level, as well, including a real estate business and a Sweet Shoppe. The theatre, which seated 700 people, opened on March 1, 1930. The theatre, very modern for the times, included a water based heating and cooling system, a good sized cinema screen, a full stage, and  orchestra pit.

Needles Historic TheaterDuring its early years, numerous performance troupes appeared on the stage and the theatre showed four movies a week. Adult movie tickets ranged from 35 to 50 cents and a child's admission price was 15 cents. In later years, the theatre also held community events such as the Miss Needles contest, recitals, and local musicians..

For 63 years, the theatre entertained the generations until 1992, when the buiding's roof caught fire. It then sat empty until November, 1997 when the Masonic Order donated it to the City of Needles. The Area Chamber of Commerce planned a $4 million renovation effort and though initial cleanup and restoration  began in 2002, the costs were so high and funding so limited, that the Chamber sold the building in 2006.

Though privately owned today, the restoration efforts are still suffering from funding needs. Supported by the Friends of the Needles Theatre, a non-profit organization, progress has been made, but there is much more to be done before the theatre can be returned to its former glory. The group works towards raising funds and obtaining grants to preserve the historic theatre. Donations are greatly appreciated. For Information, see the Friends of the Needles Theatre. The theatre is located at 823 Broadway.

 

Compiled by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated June, 2017.

 

 

 

 

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