The Theatre Beautiful


Golden Theatre, 1949
As seen in advertisement by the Denver Terra Cotta Company
Photo courtesy Gardner Family Collection

The reborn Golden Theatre was the greatest work of art Golden had seen in many a day. It was designed in the geometrics of late Art Deco style by the Atlas architect Charles Dunwoody Strong, and contractor Art Moore created its craftsmanship. The Golden featured towering twin parapets of gleaming tile crafted by the Denver Terra Cotta Company, which had earlier designed the famous facade of Denver’s Mayan Theatre. The front of the Golden featured a bold new marquee of plastic and fiberglass, with one broad side gleaming down the Avenue and a shorter side looking up Courthouse Hill. Atop the marquee in script was the theater’s name, outlined in indirect neon with exposed neon trimming the marquee. The twin parapets were largely unpainted beige with an inner shaft of aqua and innermost shaft of dark purple. The base of the building was a high trim of aqua stucco. The marquee was a golden white trimmed in beige. Below the marquee, next to a glass block window, was the slanted glass ticket booth. From there the Transcript reporter takes you on the grand tour:


Southern lobby of Golden Theatre and staircase to loge seats
Photo courtesy Gardner Family Collection

“You will enter a spacious lobby through heavy glass doors. The lobby is fully carpeted in a bold pattern. Decorators have used pastel shades with intense colors to create a unique and pleasing effect. Two colorful columns decorated in gold leaf are points of interest.”


Snack Bar
Photo courtesy Gardner Family Collection

“The popcorn and candy bar is faced in stainless steel, hand tooled in a graceful pattern. As you step into the main part of the theatre you will be seated in the new type, push-back chairs upholstered in aqua blue material. These chairs are installed so that no one need crane his neck to see around the person in front of him. End chairs of each row alternate in width to accomplish this.”


Theater auditorium, south wall showing feather motif
Photo courtesy Gardner Family Collection

“Aisles are carpeted and the rough plastered walls are decorated in a feather motif which uses all the brilliant pastels as its colors. Seats in the loge section are upholstered in red and offer super comfort. Smoking will be permitted in this section. The projection room is at the top of the loge section. The stage is constructed in a tier of steps. The main curtains are of chartreuse green velvet and are used with drapes of deep red velvet. The “travel curtain” is of aqua blue velvet. Stairs are equipped with stainless steel railings and the “attraction frames” of stainless steel and aluminum are placed at stair landings and in the lobbies.” The newswriter did not mention the restrooms, which featured aqua tile with purple toilets, sinks and urinals. The stage was a half oval projecting outwards into the auditorium. The auditorium walls were designed in vertical tiers with indirect neon lighting, which also lit the vividly decorated eggshell oval ceiling in the lobby.


Lobby ceiling of the Golden Theatre
Photo courtesy Gardner Family Collection

In all the reborn 900-seat theater, among the last great movie palaces built in the Denver area, was truly a sight to behold. The Golden had its grand reopening on March 24, 1949, being unveiled and lit up simultaneously with Golden’s brand-new Welcome Arch. The movie feature of the evening was “Wake of the Red Witch” starring John Wayne and Gail Russell. 6,000 people tried jamming the place to see it.


The front of the grand opening night program, March 24, 1949
Courtesy Gardner Family Collection

The Golden Theatre became a classic, like many would remember the old movie house of the small town they grew up in. It had movies, special traveling and community performances, showed news reels, cartoon shorts, and had kids showings that were known for their rowdy crowds. In the summertime the Golden placed icy advertisements luring folks to its air-conditioned comfort. As its career went on the Golden doubtless showed just about every major hit film in America, a career far longer than its predecessor of the same name in town.


1st advertisement for the Golden Theatre, Colorado Transcript 1949

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