A century of entertainment in a perfectly preserved theater
In the early 1900s, the landscape of America was dotted with movie theaters, each vying for its place on Main Streets across the nation. Among these, the grandest were called "Movie Palaces" for their opulent decor and lavish aesthetics. Over time, the rise of theater chains and the advent of television led to the demise of many of these cinematic gems. In the heart of downtown Ogden, Utah, stands one such theater that has not only endured the test of time but continues to thrive after more than a century.
The theater, located on Washington Boulevard, was erected in 1924. It pays homage to the architectural style and motifs of ancient Egypt, and its' exterior boasts intricate Egyptian hieroglyphics and vibrant colors that frame the stage.
Peery's Egyptian Theater remains remarkably well-preserved, and was proudly honored as a protected historic place. The dedicated staff has worked tirelessly over the years to ensure its authenticity. Kassi Bybee, the General Manager of Peery's Egyptian Theater, attests to the dedication of her team in maintaining the theater's original charm:
"One of the wisest decisions ever made in our community was to restore and save the Peery's Egyptian Theater. Over the past eight years, we have witnessed a significant increase in the theater's utilization. Gone are the days when people would remark, 'What a beautiful theater; too bad it isn't used much.' The times have certainly changed." Kassi Bybee, General Manager, Peery's Egyptian Theater
As visitors approach the box office, they are greeted by a massive hieroglyphic display above it. Stepping inside, one is instantly transported to a bygone era. The theater's interior is a spectacle reminiscent of the state-of-the-art marvels of the 1930s. Upon entering, the abundance of light makes it feel like daytime, radiating a warm, orange glow.
As the performance draws near, the theater's lighting mimics the setting sun. By the time the curtain descends and the show begins, stars twinkle above, creating a magical atmosphere reminiscent of a time before the advent of computer-generated effects.
The theater suffered a period of neglect as its popularity waned in the late 20th century. In 1997, a group of community members with a passion for preservation united to restore the theater to its former glory. Since then, it has been an integral part of the Ogden-Eccles Conference Center Complex, a true treasure that Ogdenites take immense pride in.
Peery's Egyptian Theater offers a diverse range of experiences for theater-goers, from thought-provoking speakers and comedians to beloved classics like the Rocky Horror Picture Show during Halloween, and electrifying concerts. Bybee highlights the transformation that occurred after the theater's restoration in 1997.
"When the theater was restored, we expanded the stage area, allowing for live performances, all while incorporating modern technology that complements rather than detracts from the theater's historical beauty," Bybee explains. "We have evolved into more than just a cinema palace."
Peery's Egyptian Theater is a living testament to the enduring appeal of cinema palaces, preserving not only the architectural grandeur of the past but also offering a vibrant cultural hub for the Ogden community. As it celebrates its centenary, this iconic theater remains a cherished asset and a source of immense pride for the city and its residents.