A bench rests on the edge of a half-circle flower bed in front of the theater. - , Utah
Grant Smith, 10 June 2011
San Juan Theatre

20 South Main Street
Blanding, Utah 84511
435 678-7818

The first motion pictures in Blanding were shown in the 1920s at the meetinghouse of the LDS Church.  In 1943, LeRay Alexander, a school teacher and World War II veteran, joined in a partnership with Bishop Erwin Palmer, Marvin Lyman, and Bishop John Rogers to build a commercial movie theater on the corner south of the Parley Redd Merchantile.  Palmer, Lyman, and Rogers wanted to wait until spring, when building materials would be less expensive, but Alexander's wife and daughter encouraged to him start immediately and build on his own.  The disagreement resulted in a broken contract, with the other men threatening to build and compete against him.[1]

Having a limited amount of money, Alexander asked Melvin Adams to join with him in building the showhouse, but Adams “felt the church would not allow him to build it” and that the business would not be successful.  At the suggestion of his aunt, Pearl Bayles, Alexander asked Dr. Wesley R. Bayles to help finance the project.  Bayles put up $6,500, with Alexander making up the $4,500 difference.  The partners hired Frank Hurst to build the theater.  Construction began in September 1945.[1]

The San Juan Theatre opened on 23 August 1946 with the film Duffy's Tavern.[2]  The name of the theater given in the "Opening Night" ad in the San Juan Record was “Blanding Theatre,” but the next week it was advertised as the “San Juan Theatre.”[3]

LaRay Alexander operated the San Juan Theatre until the mid-1980s, when he gave part ownership to his daughters Karen and Pamela.  Karen and her husband James Slavens later bought out the shares owned by Pamela and Dr. Wesley Bayles.[1]

1. "The Early Movie Scene: Blanding", by Stephen Workman, Blue Mountain Shadows, Volume 8, Summer 1991, page 36
2. "Blanding Theatre Opening", San Juan Record, 22 August 1946, page 1
3. "Advertisements", San Juan Theatre (Blanding)