21 East Main Street
(1916 - 1960)
In May 1916, the Vernal Amusement and Improvement Company announced plans to build “the most modern moving picture show house in the Basin” and “one of Vernal's handsomost structures.” The theater would be part of “Vernal's most modern business block,” which would include the post office, the Uintah State Bank, and the Vernal Drug Company. Construction on the 23-foot-wide Vernal Drug would begin at the same time as the theater. The other two building had already been completed.
Before construction was completed, the management decided to change the name of the theater from their original choice of “Princess.” A contest was held to find “the most catching name, with the least number of letters.” The prize was a season ticket to all performances good for three months. The winning name, “Vogue”, was two letters shorter than “Princess” and may have reduced the cost of signage for the theater.
The Vogue Theatre opened on 29 December 1916, with Mary Pickford in Poor Little Peppina, the same program used at the opening of the Paramount Empress Theatre in Salt Lake City. The Vernal Express observed, “It is an event of unusual importance to open a $30,000 Theatre, with improvements right up to the minute, with accessories equaled by but one theatre in the state and with choice film services culled from the two best circuits in the United States. . . . It is now possible for residents of this part of the country to enjoy picture shows equal to any that may be seen in Salt Lake or Denver.”
Built of brick on a concrete foundation, the Vogue Theatre measured 102 feet deep by 40 feet wide. The building was “substantial, convenient, sanitary, and safe;” “a gem for the purpose for which it was created;” and “a modern building in every particular. There are theaters in large cities that are fitted up equally well, but none better.”
The lobby had a tiled floor and was separated from the auditorium by “massive pillars and portiers.” On each side of the lobby were rest rooms, “one for ladies and one for gents. The accessories of these rooms are perfect. Here it will be possible for mothers with babes to escape from the audience a few moments when necessary, and they can give their littles home attentions without leaving the building.”
The auditorium held 425 upholstered seats on the main floor and in the balcony, each with an unobstructed view of the stage. The stage was built to give “ample accommodation for theatrical troupes as well as the screen for the 'Movies.'” Beneath the stage was a watertight boiler room.
E. Stephen (Peter) Clark, the “electrician” hired to handle the “picture projecting machines,” traveled extensively in his profession and had a “world of experience in the motion picture business.” The theater had two 1917-model Powers projectors, “the very latest thing ,” so that “while one is being 'loaded' the other is giving off the pictures on the screen.” Adjoining the projection booth were an office and a generator room. The generator supplied direct current, which was “superior to an alternating current for projecting pictures.”
Mr. Clark's wife, Ethel, played the theater's Wurlizter Plan Orchestra organ, “a wonderful piece of music-making machinery.” The organ allowed a single musician to play 17 instruments, including pipe organ, piano, violin, cello, flute, orchestra bells, chimes, and drums. “All or any number of these instruments can be played at once. The instrument is sweet toned and can still give forth an immense volume of tone.”
Manager Lawrence H. Allan, described as “equal to the best in the state,” booked the same film service used by the American and Paramount Empress Theatres in Salt Lake City. A seven reel program was given every night, with changes of program on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. “These services are high priced and usually beyond the reach of any but our larger cities. We are very fortunate in having such high character of entertainment within our reach right here in Vernal.”
The Vogue was the second theater in Utah to use the Sturtevant heating and ventilation system, “one of the best features ever provided in a public building in Vernal.” The innovative system provided a complete change of air every five minutes. Fresh air was forced through water to remove impurities, then diffused throughout the building through ducts. Stale air was extracted through vents in the ceiling. Control of underground water gave workers “considerable trouble” when construction began.
The contractor for the building was John Siddoway, “and that is equivalent to saying that there has been good honest, conscientious work done upon every detail of the structure.” The Swain Brothers did the brickwork. Mr. Guest and Mr. Gleason painted the interior of the building. Architectural plans were drawn by Wilson, Warren and Cheesborough, of Salt Lake City.
A fire cause an estimated $500 of damage to the Vogue Theatre on 22 October 1925. The fire started near the furnace in the basement at the rear of the building, spreading to the coal bin. Firemen, unable to enter the basement because of the intense heat and smoke, put water from the chemical tank through the coal chute until the flames had been reduced enough to use the water hose. The theater was expected to remain open while repairs were made.
In October 1929, Manager Mrs. Edith L. Cooper announced that the Vogue Theatre would install “the latest equipment in talking pictures as soon as it his possible to receive the equipment and make necessary changes in the building. Experts have made a close examination of the building and some changes will be necessary in order to provide the very best conditions for the new equipment.”
On 20 May 1932, the Vogue Theatre held its opening show with new R. C. A. projection and sound equipment. New Super-Simplex projectors with Peerless arc lamps provided clearer pictures on a new screen 12 feet high and 16 feet wide. The old projectors used power lamps on a screen 10 by 12 feet. The equipment was installed by Emil DeNouf, of R. C. A. and O. J. Hazen of National Theatre Supply Company. According to Mr. DeNeuf, only one other theater in Utah had equipment as modern as what was installed at the Vogue.
In 1935, 300 new upholstered seats were installed. A new R. C. A. sound system, was installed at the Vogue in May 1938. The new double-speaker system, called “The Magic Voice of the Screen,” had a range an octave higher and lower than the previous single speaker.
A number of renovations were made prior to the opening of the Main Theatre in November 1939, across the street from the Vogue. In June 1939, the Vogue Theatre and the Vernal Drug Company completed installation of a new water-cooled air conditioning system. In August 1939, 200 new leather upholstered seats were installed in the balcony of the Vogue. An “elaborate” Zeon marquee and attraction board was installed in October 1939.
On 21 January 1949, a fire, “believed to have started from spontaneous combustion of coal,” burned through an exposed rafter in the basement of the Vogue Theatre and damaged the stage and screen above. The initial fire was thought to be extinguished, but smoke was later seen issuing from from the building and the fire department returned to put out the blaze. The theater planned to reopen after a new screen and other equipment were installed.
The Vogue Theatre closed for two days in March 1948 for renovation. New seats were installed, coral rose in color and of the “comfortable spring type.” Heavy velour gold and rose drapes were hung, along with a new screen. The interior of the theater was painted.
United Intermountain Theatres leased the Vogue Theatre from the Vernal Investment and Amusement Company in March 1951. United Intermountain was an independent circuit of motion picture theaters, operating from Price, Utah to Glendive, Montana. The theater chain acquired the Starlite Drive-In Theatre in a separate transaction in the same week. Mrs. Edith Cooper, who had managed the Vogue for over 20 years, was replaced by Charles Gilkey and later Jerry Verlinden. When Mr. Verlinden took over in January 1952, he planned a “general renovation” of the Vogue, with an enlarged staff that would include ushers and ticket-takers.
In August 1957, Edith Cooper leased the Vogue Theatre to Deward and Alson Shiner for a period of three years. The Shiners already operated the Main Theatre, Vernal Theatre, and Sunset Drive-in, so the addition of the Vogue gave them control over all theaters in the Vernal area. The Shiner Brothers painted the Vogue Theatre, installed new carpet, and laid new linoleum in the rest rooms.
On 11 August 1960, Glenn Cooper and Harvey Madsen, owners of the Vernal Drug Company, began remodeling the Vogue Theatre to serve as a new home for their store. The project included “tearing out the front of the Vogue, just leaving the roof and walls.” The ceiling was lowered and all new fixtures installed.
1. "Theatre for the new Vernal Amusement & Improvement Co.", Vernal Express, 19 May 1916, page 1
2. "Theatre Name May Be Changed", Vernal Express, 3 November 1916, page 1
3. "Vogue Theatre Opens Tonight", Vernal Express, 29 December 1916, page 1
4. "Electrician of the New Theatre Here", Vernal Express, 8 December 1916, page 1
5. "High Class Pictures for Princess Theatre", Vernal Express, 6 October 1916, page 1
6. "Small Fire Starts in Vogue Theatre Thursday Afternoon", Vernal Express, 23 October 1925, page 1
7. "Vogue Theatre to Install Talking Pictures; Plan to be Ready in Ten Days", Vernal Express, 24 October 1929, page 1
8. "Vogue Theatre to Hold Opening Night with New R.C.A. Sound Equipment", Vernal Express, 19 May 1932, page 1
9. "Chapter 12: Culture, Arts, and Recreation", A History of Uintah County, by Doris Karren Burton, Utah State History CD-ROM
10. "New Sound System at Vogue Theatre Installed", Vernal Express, 5 May 1938, page 1
11. "Vogue Theatre and Vernal Drug Install Air Conditioning System", Vernal Express, 15 June 1939, page 8
12. "Praise Local Theatre", Vernal Express, 24 August 1939, page 4
13. "Vogue Theatre Installs Zeon Marque", Vernal Express, 19 October 1939, page 1
14. "Spontaneous Coal Fire Damages Vogue Theatre", Vernal Express, 22 January 1948, page 1
15. "New Equipment to be Installed in Vogue Theatre", Vernal Express, 17 March 1948, page 1
16. "Vogue, Starlite Drive-In Annexed by Theatre Circuit", Vernal Express, 29 March 1951, page 1
17. "New Manager of Vogue Will Improve Theatre", Vernal Express, 17 January 1952, page 2
18. "Mrs. E. L. Cooper Leases 'Vogue' to Shiner Bros.", Vernal Express, 8 August 1957, page 1
19. "Sunset Drive-In Will Open Friday; Vogue Dressed Up", Vernal Express, 15 August 1957, page 1
20. "Vogue Theater Remodeling For Drug Store", Vernal Express, 11 August 1960, page 1