Hidden History: The Rise of Moving Pictures and Opera in Twin Falls

2014-03-06T02:00:00Z Hidden History: The Rise of Moving Pictures and Opera in Twin FallsBy Mychel Matthews mmatthews@magicvalley.com Twin Falls Times-News

TWIN FALLS • Early residents liked to be entertained, and the result was a proliferation of silver screens in Twin Falls.

Movie houses “are fast becoming almost as numerous as cigar stores or confectionary stands in every part of the country,” the Twin Falls News reported in 1907.

The city’s first theater opened in 1907 above the Mission Cafe on Main Avenue North, across the street from the Hotel Perrine.

Owners P.W. Alexander and C.W. Tschumy, both of Ohio, held a contest to name the theater, and Mary Milner won $5 in gold for suggesting the “Majestic.”

The Majestic was sold the next year and moved to 130 Main Ave. S. in what had been the Stothard Hardware Co.

It reopened in 1908 as the Dime Theater. The new owners were smart to re-engage the popular Miss Fargo, pianist, and Miss McCrait, soloist, the Twin Falls News opined.

The same year, one of the owners of the Dime Theater opened the Iris Moving Picture Theater at 325 Shoshone St. S. with “an audience that bulged out onto the sidewalk ...”

By 1910, the town had plans for a $150,000 opera house on Second Avenue West behind the Perrine Hotel.

It never materialized, but several years later, the smaller Lavering Opera House opened on Second Avenue East — known as the “Blacker’s Furniture” building today. The Lavering was the first of many to double as a vaudeville theater and movie house.

The first block of Shoshone Street North became known as “Theater Row.”

After the Isis, the 350-seat Orsis Theater was built on the west corner of Shoshone and Second Avenue North, followed by the Luna, the Grand, the Revier and the Rialto theaters.

The Orpheum — considered the granddaddy of Twin Falls theaters — opened in 1906 on Main Street South. It moved to Theater Row, then moved around the corner to its present location in 1918.

Mychel Matthews reports on agriculture and health care for the Times-News. The Hidden History feature runs every Thursday in the Times-News and on Magicvalley.com. If you have a question about something that may have historical significance, email Matthews at mmatthews@magicvalley.com.

Copyright 2015 Twin Falls Times-News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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