Famous Films Theatre|
(Glen Brothers Piano Company, Chickering Hall, Laughing Gypsy Comedy Theatre)
2546 Washington Avenue
Ogden, Utah 84401
George Glen and Jay S. Glen opened a piano business in 1907, sharing floorspace at a plumbing shop. They displayed their stock “in a practical fashion, opposite the bathtub and other necessities of the well-appointed household.” About 1911, they moved into a new store, “erected especially for them,” on Hudson Avenue (now Kiesel Avenue.) The Glen Brothers Piano Company incorporated in April 1912, with a capital stock of $100,000.
By November 1923, the Glen Brothers opened a new three-story “exceedingly artistic” store at 2546 Washington Avenue. The exterior “suggests a Greek temple, in its snowy whiteness and beautiful simplicity of design.” A marquee extended over the entrance, “similar to that of a theatre.” A thirty-foot show window featured a turntable for displaying phonographs and pianos. A warehouse and “commodious” shop occupied the ground floor, with company offices at the back of the mezzanine. The property had a depth of 330 feet.
The top floor contained piano showrooms and a “beautiful” concert hall. The performance space was named Chickering Hall, in honor of the centennial of the famous Chickering piano, but was also referred to as Glen Brothers-Roberts recital hall.
“Acoustically it has been pronounced absolutely perfect, and several recitals have already been given there with complete success. Seating over two hundred people comfortably, this new concert hall should fill a long felt want in Ogden, as it is an ideal place for concerts and lectures designed for an audience of modest size.”
The vacant Glen Brothers Music Company building reopened in April 1975, after major remodeling, as a shopping mall named the Washington Fair. The largest of the twelve shops was first-floor, 50-seat Laughing Gypsy Cafe, owned by Robert Macek. The former recital stage on the third floor was to open by early May 1975 as supper theater, with an “early coffee house atmosphere” and family entertainment including old movies and plays. The mall was managed by Washington Fair Inc., with Richard L. Chaney as president and Richard M. Kinler as vice president.
By August 1975, Robert Macek opened a dinner theater on the third floor, named “The Laughing Gypsy.” The theater presented live entertainment and plays, with a staff of 11 employees. By January 1976, the entire shopping complex was referred to by the name “Laughing Gypsy” and appeared to be under the management of Macek. On 14 April 1977, the Famous Films Theatre opened at the Laughing Gypsy, showing classic movies. The theater continued to present occasional plays with dinner services, through at least the end of 1997.
1. "Glen Brothers Piano Company", Ogden Standard Examiner, 15 April 1912, page 7
2. "Music and Drama", Ogden Standard Examiner, 2 December 1923, page 6
3. "History of Ogden's Fine Music House is Interesting", Ogden Standard Examiner, 10 December 1923, page 7
4. "Shopping Complex Opens", Ogden Standard Examiner, 12 April 1975, page 12
5. "Advertisements", Famous Films Theatre (Ogden)
6. "[Laughing Gypsy Opens]", Ogden Standard Examiner, 9 November 1975, page D9
7. "Downtown Ogden", Ogden Standard Examiner, 31 January 1976, page 13