(Cherry Theatre, Cozy Theatre, Weber Theatre, Weber Little Theatre)
225 25th Street
Ogden, Utah 84401
(1912 - 1939)
The Cherry Theatre was open as early as December 1912, when George Tewey was arrested in a nearby confectionery for disturbing the peace. J. W. Randolph placed a classified ad on 7 January 1913 for a partner in a theatrical company, a “splendid money-making attraction.” The advertisement said to call on Randolph at the Cherry Theatre, 225 25th Street. By March 1913, the Cherry Theatre was known as the Rex.
Plays were presented at the Rex as early as 13 March 1913, when the Danish Glee Club of Salt Lake presented a Scandinavian drama, “Magdalena.” Special trains were to handle the extra crowds expected for the performance.
Stanley B. Steck, owner of the Lyceum Theatre, purchased the Rex Theatre from George Ablf in January 1915. Steck planned to make “some alterations” to the Rex “to meet the present demands and needs of patrons.” Because of its close proximity to the Lyceum, the Rex closed during the summer months, opening again in the fall when demand was higher. Even then, the Rex operated on reduced hours compared to the other theaters controlled by Steck. The Lyceum opened at 11 AM and the Cozy at 2 PM, but the Rex not until 4:45 PM.[6, 7, 8, 16]
Dan E. Sullivan, a juvenile court judge and graduate of the Leland Powers School of the Spoken Word, was the “moving spirit” in organizing the Little Theatre movement in Ogden in November 1919. The greatest difficulty, finding a suitable venue, was solved when Manager Steck offered the use of Rex Theatre “practically without rent.” Minor work was expected to done on the theater's stage. Ticket sales and yearly donations from “keenly interested” persons were to cover the organization's working expenses. The purpose of the Little Theatre was to “encourage local talent in the fine art of the drama, increase the study of great plays, minister of the finest intellectual enjoyment, and act as a leavening influence in the heightening of the desire for the finest expressions of dramatic art.”[5, 16]
On 30 September 1920, the Rex Theatre opened for the winter season after being closed for about a year. The theater had been “completely renovated” and “rearranged,” “making it one of the most comfortable theatres in the state.” The interior freshly was painted and retinted to match the color scheme of Steck's two other Ogden theaters. The Rex was equipped with two of the “latest model Powers 6B motion picture machines,” along with a Worman's automatic re-wind machine.[6, 7]
The Rex Theatre took on the name of the Cozy Theatre by September 1929. Steck sold the original Cozy Theatre to the Ogden Theatre Company, which closed it two years later. A one-week remodeling and redecorating of the new Cozy Theatre, costing several thousand dollars, began in late September 1929. The Lyceum was to be used exclusively for talking picture features, while the Cozy would present silent pictures.[8, 9]
Bertha Eccles Wright, in connection with President Aaron Tracy of Weber college, spent much effort and time trying to get the Little Theatre movement started in Ogden, with the college as its nucleus. Realizing it could never be a strictly community project if it were connected with any one organization, Wright contacted S. B. Steck, owner of the Cozy Theatre, and C. V. Zinn, its operator, and obtained permission to produce Little Theatre plays there as long as the organization paid its own expenses. The Cozy then became known also as the Weber Theatre or the Weber Little Theatre.[11, 12, 13]
When “the curtain went up for the first time in Ogden's community theatre” on 1 September 1931, the Cozy had been “remodeled, brightened with paint, and made most attractive.” The stage had been enlarged and carpeted. The seating had been changed “to afford greater comfort.” The people of Ogden were asked to “lend their presence” and “encourage the dramatic talent of this community.” Management of the theater promised plays would open and close on time, with short intermissions and “no tiresome delays and no drag.”
Citizens petitioned the city commissioners in September 1931 to clean up Twenty-Fifth Street, west of Washington Avenue. With a few exceptions, every establishment on both sides of the street from Grant to Wall Avenue was said to be occupied by “bootleggers, prostitutes, gamblers, and their hangers-on.” Many travelers make only one stop in Utah, at the Ogden Union Station, the petitioners said, and the entrance to Ogden “should be the finest street in town to properly impress the visitors.” Stanley Steck let Weber college use the Cozy Theatre “free of charge on condition that it lend its influence in cleaning up the street.” Aaron W. Tracy, President of Weber college, expressed concern about having over 30 young men and women making two trips down the street each day to attend the Weber Theatre.
In September 1934, “a group of representative citizens of Ogden” organized the Little Theatre Guild, Inc., “for the purpose of giving Little Theatre work in this city permanence and backing, recognizing its value to such a community as Ogden, where its lovers of the drama may have an outlet for their talent and grow in its perfection.” The Little Theatre continued to produce plays at the Weber Theatre through at least 1939.
1. "George Tewey Was Bumped and Fined", Ogden Standard Examiner, 17 December 1912, page 7
2. "Help Wanted", Ogden Standard Examiner, 07 January 1913, page 3
3. "Local Briefs", Ogden Standard Examiner, 12 March 1913, page 6
4. "'Little Theatre' is to Open in Ogden", Ogden Standard Examiner, 10 November 1919, page 2
5. "Those Who Are to be Seen at Ogden's Little Theatre", Ogden Standard Examiner, 12 November 1919, page 2
6. "Rex Theatre Reopens Tomorrow Afternoon", Ogden Standard Examiner, 29 September 1920, page 16
7. "Latest Equipment in Cozy, Rex and Lyceum", Ogden Standard Examiner, 24 October 1920, page 13
8. "Steck Sells Cozy Theatre", Ogden Standard Examiner, 18 May 1923, page 10
9. "Cozy Theatre to be Reopened", Ogden Standard Examiner, 29 September 1929, page 16
10. "News and Views", Ogden Standard Examiner, 30 August 1931, page 1
11. "Citizens Ask City Board to Make Cleanup on 25th Street", Ogden Standard Examiner, 03 September 1931, page 1
12. "Old Time Drama Days in Ogden Are Recalled", Ogden Standard Examiner, 28 January 1934, page 8
13. "Little Theatre Group to Open Year October 4", Ogden Standard Examiner, 23 September 1934, page 7
14. "Bertha Wright Directs Drama", Ogden Standard Examiner, 09 April 1939, page A10
15. “Theaters Under Steck Control”, Ogden Standard Examiner, 25 January 1915, Page 4
16. “Little Theater to be Developed in Ogden”, 7 November 1919, Ogden Standard Examiner, page 13