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Murray Theater
4961 South State Street
Murray, Utah  84107
801-654-6678
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Villa Theatre
Salt Lake City, Utah

The historic Villa Theatre opened in 1949, showing the black and white film "Prince of Foxes."  In 1961 the Villa became the only theater in Utah to show Cinerama.  The theater closed 18 February 2003 and has been renovated as a beautiful rug gallery.

 
 
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The marquee of the theater has a four-line attraction board and a vertical sign with the name 'Murray'.

Photographer: Grant Smith
Date: 4 July 2003

Murray Theater
4961 South State Street
Murray, Utah 84107
801-654-6678
info@thekollective.com
http://www.murraytheater.com/
 
Status:
Open 
Total Seats:
550 
Open:
28 October 1938  
Closed:
October 2003  
Architect:
A. B. Paulson 
On National Register of Historic Places
 
The Murray Theater was built by Tony Duvall, who built the Gem and New Iris theaters in Murray, and Joseph L. Lawrence, who built the Villa and Southeast in Salt Lake and the Academy in Provo.

A. B. Paulson, who was likely the architect of the Murray, also designed the Villa Theatre. Carl F. Fors was likely the general contractor for both theaters as well - as Fors & Johnson for the Murray, and Carl F. Fors and Sons for the Villa.

The Murray Theater opened on 28 October 1938, showing “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” and “Hawaiian Holiday”

"A description of the building’s modern features [in the Murray Eagle] mentioned the lighting was the 'latest type of tube lighting', with the marquee trimmed in ruby red; the box office and entrance finished in stainless steel. The foyer is described as having indirect tube lighting with delicate wall decorations and heavy red floor carpets. The spacious auditorium had full, upholstered chairs situated so that every patron was provided with an unobstructed view of the screen; lighting was concealed, and the aisles were five and one-half feet wide. Other state-of-the-art features included the latest 'Microphonic' sound system and projection equipment, air conditioning, as well as large restrooms with an 'ultra-modern' lounge for the ladies."1

In September 1964, Art M. Jolley purchased the Murray from Fox-Intermountain Theaters. By then end of January 1965 he completed a $15,000 "modernization program" on the theater.2

In 1981, Mr. Jolley sold the Murray to another party, but later he took the theater back. In 1989, after the death of Art Jolley, the Jolley family sold the theater to his son-in-law, Steve Webb.

Steve Web operated the Murray as a second-run theater, with the help of his wife and children, and his brother. The Murray closed for two days, starting 28 October 1992, so the stage could be enlarged to accommodate live performances. Vandermeide, who had been performing at the Avalon, then moved his hypnotist show to the Murray.3

In October 1999 the Murray Theater closed suddenly, leaving the Academy Theatre Company, which had been performing in the theater, without a stage. The theater was to be auctioned in February 2000.4

In October 2001, the Murray theater became the Murray Unity Spiritual Center, lead by the Rev. Phillip J. Smithen. The planned opening date was 27 October 2001, exactly 63 years to the day from when the theater opened. The facade of the Murray was to be unchanged, but the interior was to be remodeled with a bookstore, a Sunday school, a prayer room, and a new coffee shop. The auditorium become a 550-seat sanctuary. In addition to worship services, they wanted to use the theater for plays and concerts.5

1. National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for the Murray Theater
2. "Theater Refurbished", Salt Lake Tribune, 28 January 1965, page B9
3.
"Murray Theatre Will Offer Live Presentations", Deseret News, 30 October 1992, Page W3
4. Deseret News, 6 March 2000, page A10
5. Deseret News, 22 September 2001