It may only show one movie at a time, but this quaint theater is not to be missed. It was the last theater in the United States constructed in the Nuevo Deco style, a form of Art Deco that also features elements of Art Nouveau.
The Washoe Theater was designed circa 1930 by B. Marcus Priteca, the architect of the Hollywood Pantages theater, and built in 1936 during the Great Depression. The space was designed to feature near-perfect acoustics, which was an impressive feat of engineering as the theater opened at a time when films with sound were still relatively new.
The space itself is just as much of an attraction as the movies. Its walls boast ornate reliefs and accents. Copper details pay homage to the mining industry that once dominated the city. The curtain, which is made of silk and covered with a painting of deer, is so old and beautiful that workers are hesitant to take it down for cleaning or restoration in case it falls apart.
The historic theater sits in the middle of the former mining city of Anaconda. At the beginning of the 20th century, Anaconda was one of the world’s largest processors of copper. As such, it had a hefty population of immigrants working its mines and smelter. The miners were eager to be entertained after a hard day, and the Washoe Theater provided a reprieve from their grueling work.
Today, people can still pop into this delightful feature from the city’s past. The experience of seeing a movie in such a historic place is a treat for anyone visiting this corner of Montana.