by Steven Kartstein; historical information provided by Parker Anderson
The year was 1905, and the film “The Palace of the Arabian Nights” ushered in the era of the silent movies to the Elks Theatre here in Prescott on Gurley Street. The Elks Theatre became a full-time movie house and vaudeville theatre in 1910. During silent films, a live orchestra played the accompanying music. The vaudeville era ended about 1918, but the movies continued on. It took only about 10 years for the “talkies” to take over, and in 1929 the newest technology – the Western Electric sound system – was installed.
From 1910 to 1982 the Theatre was almost exclusively used to show movies. In 1982 it was sold. After 72 years the last film to be seen that same year was “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” The new owners leased out the Theatre for a variety of functions until the City of Prescott purchased it in 2000.
After an absence of 36 years, movies have returned to the Elks Theatre and Performing Arts Center. The Theatre’s first showing was in 2017 at Halloween with the fun film “Hocus Pocus” followed by “The Polar Express” in December.
Theatre Manager Colette Greenlee said management had been discussing returning movies to the Theatre for a while and “brought movies back to the Elks to provide more opportunities for the community to enjoy the beautifully restored Elks Theatre and provide other entertainment besides music.”
Proceeds from the film showings will be set aside for a community outreach fund that will allow the Theatre to continue to show more films and support community events.
Greenlee said a variety of films will be shown, starting off with a couple of shows a month and expanding from there. Currently scheduled at the Elks Theatre in February and March are such great films as “Casablanca,” “Field of Dreams,” “E.T.” and “Gone With the Wind”. The cost to enter the Theatre for films is a cash donation of any amount. Seating is open, and there is no presale of tickets or reserved seating.
For more information please visit the Elks Theatre and Performing Arts Center website: prescottelkstheater.com, the Elks Facebook page at facebook.com/prescottelksoperahouse. Call or email us at 928-777-1370 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not forget to sign up for our emails to get the latest Theatre happenings.