HISTORY OF THE
ELLEN ECCLES THEATRE
Ellen Eccles Theatre Centennial
Future of the Phoenix and Thank You
Films by Andy Lorimer
YEARS SINCE THE OPENING IN MARCH OF 1923
PERFORMANCES AT THE ELLEN ECCLES THEATRE EVERY YEAR
HOURS OUR VOLUNTEER USHERS DONATE EVERY YEAR
George W. Thatcher Sr. and his wife, Eunice "Luna" Young-Thatcher, built what is now known as The Thatcher Young Mansion. The spacious Queen Anne Victorian home was built at the same time as the Logan Tabernacle and was home to several generations of the Thatcher Family.
The Thatcher Brothers Bank was opened on the corner of Main and Center Street. The bank filled the first floor of the building and boasted a grand opera house on the top two floors, The Thatcher Opera House.
The Thatcher Family extended their influence in Logan. They built a music store next to the trolley car station on main street, just a few buildings down from the Thatcher Brothers Bank on the north corner.
April 17, 1912
After 22 years of patrons attending shows and performances, The Thatcher Opera House was destroyed overnight. Calls for help were sent to Ogden and Salt Lake City. Citizens worked throughout the night to control the blaze. The building was a total loss and left a hole in the community.
The story says one fall afternoon, George W. Thatcher Jr. and his brother, Brigham Guy Thatcher, came to the mansion in their best business suits. They met with Luna about funding the building of a new theatre after they had tragically lost the opera house. They envisioned an ornate, first-class, grand theatre that would boast excellent acoustics, and an opulent interior to be the "crown jewel" of Cache Valley. Eleven years and $250,000 later on March 29, 1923, the Capitol Theatre opened. Luna passed 2 months prior and never saw the opening of the theatre she funded the construction.
March 29, 1923
At the hefty price of $250,000, the beautiful new theatre boasted a fly system, excellent acoustics, and an opulent interior. Named for its rival in Salt Lake City, the Capitol Theatre contributed to the image of Logan as “the Athens of Utah” and for the next few decades, it was at the heart of cultural activities in Cache Valley.
The beautiful structure was grand enough to attract the great entertainers: Abbot and Costello, John Philip Sousa, the Marx Brothers, and George Burns and Gracie Allen. Live performances shared the stage with films, which became dominant through the 1930s. Thousands of avid moviegoers flocked to the theatre until television emerged in the 1950s. The crowds waned and films shared the space with community.
(Photo circa 1950)
By this time, live performance ceased at the theatre and for many years it served as a movie house, deteriorating from the inside out.
The ornate plasterwork had been painted industrial green, burlap sacks covered the stunning murals portraying the mythical phoenix bird, and a massive plywood wall blocked the stage. Some spoke of demolishing the building to provide additional parking but a few visionary citizens, led by Michael Ballam, saw greater potential.
The Capitol Arts Alliance was founded in 1989 to oversee the restoration of the Ellen Eccles Theatre and the construction of the adjacent Bullen Center. As a result of a grassroots effort, the building was transferred to the City of Logan, becoming a community theatre in the very best sense. Over 321 volunteers and over 40 businesses participated in the clean-up, donating more than 1,164 hours. Four years later and an ambitious $4.3 million project to restore the theatre and create the adjacent Bullen Center, the Ellen Eccles Theatre opened on January 8, 1993.
Like the mythological Phoenix, which perishes in the fire and is reborn in the ashes, the Ellen Eccles Theatre is more vibrant than ever. Nationally recognized performers have graced the stage and commented on the quality of the acoustics and the facility. The Ellen Eccles Theatre, the “crown jewel” of Cache Valley, is once again at the heart of the arts in Cache Valley.
The Capitol Arts Alliance became The Cache Valley Center for the Arts to continue to bring art opportunities to Cache Valley.
2018 - 25th Silver Anniversary
The community came together once again to renovate and restore parts of the Ellen Eccles Theatre. Including a new HVAC system, carpets, lights, paint, and technical equipment.