THE MONTANA THEATER – BUTTE, MONTANA – HISTORY LOST
How I knew the old grand lady known as The Montana Theater in Butte, Montana, was as the abandoned, gutted building standing there on Montana Street eyeing all who walked in front of her, hoping someone would come inside, to relive those days of motion pictures flashed on the movie screen, the ghosts of Hollywood whispering to those people.
I never got to see inside of the theater, other than some few pictures but for some reason it had always had a place in my mind, I wanted to explore her, sneak in, just for a trip, breaking the law, but alas I never did, she was tore down, a victim to long neglect which sent her finally to t;he great old building heaven in the sky, a victim to the bulldozer and the crane, to be lost to the world as only a memory, some photos here and there, found in attics, basements, that thing known as the Internet.
Butte had many theaters, amusement houses, those places where the rich and the poor, and everyone in between could see the “moving picture show” back in its hey day.
My days in Butte weren’t too much of the hey days; mining had slipped off the slopes of economic boom, into the ip; abyss of economic hardship, the price of the copper had gone under.
We did have some nice theater: The Fox Theater, now known as the Mother Lode Theater.
She was the Uptown Theater, the one closer where I lived.
We also had one on “The Flats” in the mall.
It still exists and I’ve viewed quite a few shows in its theaters but it never was my go to theater way back when.
I did take a now ex-girlfriend to a few shows there over last summer, a tainted place now, except if I think about the time my friend who happens to be a girl took me to see “Wonder Woman”.
Nowadays, The Fox now the Mother Lode theater plays plays, way off Broadway shows, some retro films I’ve heard.
I haven’t been in the “Rebuilt Imagery” of what was needed to be done.
When I went in there, it was to see the movies of the late 1980s, “my high school memories” as I call them now; the titles now lost to me as I sit here and type but I can remember sitting there; my popcorn and drink, most times no date, I was too shy to ask a girl to the show, there were a few “friends” who happened to be girls but when we went, there was the promise of no hanky panky.
But back to the history of the Montana Theater; she was built in 1901, had a few different names then the one I knew her by; Sutton’s New Grand Theater and Broadway Theater.
Apparently, she could seat thousands(2,175 seats) and hosted the toast of Hollywood and Broadway in her times. (More information can be found at these location – at loc.gov Interesting article and photo of The Montana Theater, including the story about when they did a live production of Ben Hur at The Montana Theater!Link will ask you to fill out a survey to read story!!! But not bad…can even skip if you want!)
The Montana Theater was condemned and demolished in 1988.
Her death did bring about some good; new laws were enacted to help try to prevent such deterioration and decay from happening again to historic buildings and the Butte Public Library ended up with a larger,better building, the previous phone company location which built a new building on the site of the former theater.