KUED7, Utah’s PBS television station, has asked me to produce an hour long documentary on old movie theaters in Utah. It will cover some of the large movie palaces in Ogden and Salt Lake City, plus a few of the small town theaters and drive ins in Central and Southern Utah.
A long time favorite in downtown Salt Lake City was the Centre Theater, located at the corner of State Street and 300 South. The Centre was the first theater built in Salt Lake City after the Great Depression. In addition to its large auditorium that seated 1623 patrons on two levels, the developers, Herbert and Fred Auerbach also built 21 shops with large glass display cases. The wrap-around marquee at the front theater entrance was 90 feet tall.
Completed in 1937, the Centre ran first run movies for fifty years until closed in 1987. A year long attempt was made to save and restore the theater. However the theater’s large size and valuable downtown real estate, made that effort fail. It was razed in 1989.
Here are a few photos of the Centre. The white haired man entering the theater lobby is Henry Blood, Governor of Utah. That photo appears to have been taken at the theater’s grand opening. Thank you to the Utah State Historical Society who recently completed a massive digitization project of the Salt Lake Tribune negative collection where most of these images were housed.