Category Archives: early 21st century

Egyptian Theater with Sundance Film Festival on Marquee

Park City Egyptian Theater

Published / by Jesse Labastida / 1 Comment on Park City Egyptian Theater

write-up by Jesus Labastida Munguia

Placed by: Park City Centennial Commission

GPS Coordinates: 40.6425°N 111.495°

Historical Marker Text (1):  

PARK CITY

1884

The Egyptian Theater

In the early 1900’s Park City’s social and entertainment needs were served by a number of flourishing theaters and social halls. When the Dewey Theater, originally on this site, collapsed under a heavy snow load, John Rugar replaced it with the Egyptian Theater built in 1926. It was designed to seat 400 and to accommodate both movies and vaudeville. It became the first “sound movie” theater in Park City.

After being remodeled in 1963, the building opened as the Silver Wheel Theater and old fashioned “meller dramas” were performed for the next fifteen years. In 1978 the building’s architectural integrity was threatened by an attempt to change its facade to a western motif. Preservation of its distinctive Egyptian features was achieved, however, when the building became the home of Park City Performances in 1981.

The Egyptian Revival Style represents a unique period architecture which peaked in America around 1930. Egyptian theaters are rare, and this is one of only two remaining in Utah. Originally the interior contained replicas of Egyptian artifacts. This is a masonry structure with   a false front shield its hip roof. Tiles at the base of the ticket booth and pilasters in obelisk shape reinforce the Egyptian Motif.

Presented by the Park City Centennial Commission, 1984

Egyptian Theater with Sundance Marquee.

Extended Research:

The Egyptian Theater is an iconic fixture of Utah’s Park City community, standing prominently on Main Street. Its edifice is a beautiful representation of its Egyptian Revival architecture. The history of the Egyptian Theater is just as colorful as its outside design. The site where it is located has had a longstanding reputation for being the place in Park City where members of the community could congregate to enjoy entertainment provided through local theater and arts.[1]

Main Street Egyptian Theatre at Night.

The history of the Egyptian theater traces its roots all the way to “the Big Fire of 1898.” The fire tore through Park City’s now historical Main Street creating a site that two businessmen, David Keith and James Ivers, found suitable to construct the Dewey Theatre– the very first iteration of the Egyptian Theater. The Dewey Theater was known for showcasing the best professional fighters and travelling theatrical troupes of the time. The old Dewey Theater even boasted a barbershop, a candy store, and a state-of-the-art floor that could be raised and lowered to suit the needs of the theater. Sadly, the reign of the famous Dewey Theater would come to an end in 1916 after a heavy snowpack that accumulated on the roof caused it to cave-in. Fortunately, the collapse took place after closing time and no one was injured.[2]   

In 1926, a new theater was constructed at the old Dewey Site under a $50,000 contract.[3] The theater was designed in the style of Ancient Egyptian architecture and motifs, heavily influenced by a craze in Egyptology following the discovery of King Tutt’s tomb. The Egyptian theater offered picture shows as well as theatre performances for enjoyment. The erection of the theatre was heavily dependent on the growing demand for entertainment in Park City. John Ruger spearheaded the development project and maintained ownership until 1948 when he sold the theater to Russ Dodderman. Shortly after several changes in management, owners renamed the playhouse the Lu Ann Theater for a period thereafter.[4]

City Officials in Front of the Silver Wheel Theater.

Much like the rest of the nation in the 20th century, Utah saw developments of movie theaters across the state. Many theaters of the early 20th century utilized the previous playhouse and opera house buildings and revamped the theater’s edifice with attention grabbing design motifs ranging from Spanish Colonial revival to Neoclassical architecture. This sudden possibility of movie-going ushered in a new era of connection to Main Street. The Egyptian Theater in Park City is one of two remaining Egyptian Revival theaters in the state, the other is the Peery’s Egyptian Theatre in Ogden, Utah. The attention-grabbing Egyptian architecture seen at the Egyptian Theaters are reflective of the novel craze of movie-going that took place across the United States; it is loud, exciting, and demands the attention of all who walk by it.[5]

By 1959, Art Durrant purchased the playhouse and ran it for a little more than three years before he became burnt out from managing the theater. He subsequently sold the property to a theater management company named Silver Wheel Enterprises. Silver Wheel Enterprises decided to change the name of the location once more to the Silver Wheel Theater for its opening in 1963. The Silver Wheel Egyptian theater would go through many similar changes in management and changes in entertainment, eventually becoming home to the Park City Performances (PCP), a local community theatre organization.[6]

In the twenty first century the Egyptian Theater is a historical testament to Park City’s love for entertainment. The theater today is used for community performances and film viewing, as it is one of Sundance Film Festival’s most desirable venues, where highly praised filmmakers are invited to showcase their films.

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

City Officials in Front of the Silver Wheel Theater (Egyptian Theater), Park City, Utah (2 Views). Photograph. Accessed May 2, 2022.

Dewey Theater Changes Hands.” Salt Lake Tribune. February 20, 1910.

Egyptian-American Theaters Change Hands.” Park Record. March 11, 1948.

New Silver Wheel Enterprises Buys Lu Ann Theater in Park.” Summit County Bee and Park Record. March 4, 1963.

New Theatre Will Be On Dewey Site.” Park Record, July 2, 1926.

Silver Mill, Theater Group near Agreement on Egyptian.” Park Record. September 22, 1983. 

Secondary Sources:

“About Us.” Park City Shows. Egyptian Theatre, December 11, 2021.

 Carter, Thomas, and Peter L. Goss. “Egyptian Revival 1920-1930.” In Utah’s Historic Architecture, 1847-1940: A Guide, 135–35. Salt Lake City, UT, Utah: Center for Architectural Studies, Graduate sic School of Architecture, University of Utah, & Utah State Historical Society, 1991.

Roper, Roger. “Going to the Movies: A Photo Essay of Theaters.” Utah Historical Quarterly 67, no. 2 (1999): 111–22.


[1] Carter, Thomas, and Peter L. Goss. “Egyptian Revival 1920-1930. In Utah’s

Historic Architecture, 1847-1940: A Guide, 135–35. Salt Lake City, UT, Utah: Center for

Architectural Studies, Graduate sic School of Architecture, University of Utah, & Utah

State Historical Society, 1991.

[2] “New Silver Wheel Enterprises Buys Lu Ann Theater in Park.” Summit County Bee and Park Record. March 4, 1963.

[3] “New Theatre Will Be On Dewey Site.” Park Record, July 2, 1926.

[4] “New Theatre Will Be On Dewey Site.” Park Record, July 2, 1926.

[5] Roper, Roger. “Going to the Movies: A Photo Essay of Theaters.” Utah Historical Quarterly 67, no. 2 (1999): 111–22.

[6] “Silver Mill, Theater Group near Agreement on Egyptian.” Park Record. September 22, 1983.

Cottonwood Paper Mill

Published / by Jaclyn Foster / 3 Comments on Cottonwood Paper Mill

write-up by Jaclyn Foster

Placed By: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, no. 326

GPS Coordinates: N 40º37’603” W 111º48’000”

Historical Marker Text:

Daughters of Utah Pioneers
No. 326
Erected 1966
COTTONWOOD PAPER MILL

In 1880 the Deseret News Corporation purchased a 28-acre millsite including water rights. With Henry Grow, architect and builder, the $150,000 structure, made of granite from nearby quarries with mortar of clay and stone grindings, took three years to erect. The 1860 paper machine from Sugarhouse Mill and some new machinery was installed; a 1500-ft. race brought water through the penstock to encased turbines. The plant could yield 5 tons of paper a day. Chas. J. Lambert, manager, sold to Granite Paper Mills Co. 1892; destroyed by fire 1893; restored 1927 as a recreational center.
Central Company

Extended Research:

The first newspaper established in the Mountain West, the Deseret News, began publication in June of 1850. In order to reduce production costs, LDS leader Brigham Young appointed Thomas Howard, a paper maker from England, to construct a paper mill in Sugar House. The machinery for this mill was updated several times, with thrifty pioneers exchanging parts between beet sugar, iron working, and paper industries. In 1883, under the direction of Henry Grow, Deseret News Company received new paper machinery, and built Cottonwood Paper Mill to house the old machinery for use as a spare. The new mill was built using discarded granite from the construction of the Salt Lake Temple.

After the completion of the railroad, paper became cheaper to import, and the Deseret News sold Cottonwood Paper Mill to Granite Mills Paper Company in 1892. The mill was destroyed by fire in 1893.1

C. R. Savage. Deseret Paper Mill, Mouth of Cottonwood Canon Utah. L. Tom Perry Special Collections

Paper mills produce paper from waste cellulose fibers. In this case, the mill used cotton and linen rags. These rags were cooked and beaten to suspend the cellulose fibers in water. The fibers were collected on framed screens dipped in the water, and the water was removed by stacking frames between felt sheets. After the paper was dry, they were briefly soaked in gelatin or starch solutions, and dried again. This last step was known as “sizing” and prevented ink from feathering.2

Successful operation of the mill was a community endeavor. The mill required a constant supply of rags, which were collected by the Deseret News, public works programs, and church initiatives. In 1861, George Goddard was called on a three-year mission with the sole task of collecting rags for the mill. The calling “was a severe blow to [his] native pride,” but Goddard accepted the assignment. His rag collecting took him from Franklin, Idaho to Sanpete County, and involved preaching sermons on Sunday about rag collection. Goddard collected over 100,000 pounds of rags for the mill. The Women’s Relief Society took over rag collection in 1867 and organized regular rag drives.3

Following its destruction by fire in 1893, the mill remained unused until it was rebuilt in 1927 by J. B. Walker, a private citizen. The mill was transformed into an open-air dance hall, the Old Mill Club, and played a significant role in the local social scene. The club’s use was disrupted by World War II, when rationing increased food prices and military enrollment made mixed-sex activities, such as dancing, impractical. Following the end of the war, the social scene had shifted to drive-in movies, and the Old Mill Club never regained its former prominence, although it had rebranded itself as a “discotheque” by 1970.4 It has remained in the hands of the Walker family, with J. B. Walker’s grandson-in-law managing the property since 1987. The mill was condemned by Cottonwood Heights in 2005 due to earthquake building codes.5

Since its condemnation, the mill has been the target of repeated vandalism and theft. In 2011, thieves stole over $20,000 of copper wiring, and the mill’s historical marker was removed by the owner after he came upon thieves who had cut three of the plaque’s four bolts in order to steal it.6 Today, the mill is a study in contrasts. The crumbling, graffiti-laden building sits just up the road from a private gated community which bears its name and likeness. Residents tell ghost stories about the mill, and when the city of Cottonwood Heights commissioned a book on the community’s history, the mill graced the book’s cover. The mill’s owner envisions a future where the mill is rebuilt and used as an art gallery and dance hall.

For Future Reference:

Primary Sources

The Paper Mill,” Deseret News, April 8 1893.

Cabrero, Alex. “Thieves make away with $20,000 of copper wiring from Old Mill,” KSL News, November 17, 2011.

Secondary Sources

Arrington, Leonard. Great Basin Kingdom: Economic History of the Latter-Day Saints 1830-1900. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1966).

Roberts, Allen D. City Between the Canyons: A History of Cottonwood Heights, 1849-1953. Available at Cottonwood Heights City Hall.

Saunders, Richard. “‘Rags! Rags! Rags!!!’: Beginnings of the Paper Industry in the Salt Lake Valley, 1849-1858.” Utah Historical Quarterly 62(1), 1994.

Smith, Melvin T. “National Register of Historic Places Nomination: Granite Paper Mill.” National Register of Historic Places Inventory, National Parks Service, (December 10, 1970).

Footnotes:

1. Melvin T. Smith, “National Register of Historic Places Nomination: Granite Paper Mill.” National Register of Historic Places Inventory, National Parks Service, (December 10, 1970).

2. Richard Saunders, “‘Rags! Rags! Rags!!!’: Beginnings of the Paper Industry in the Salt Lake Valley, 1849-1858.” Utah Historical Quarterly 62(1), 1994

3. Leonard Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom: Economic History of the Latter-Day Saints 1830-1900. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1966), 114-116.

4. Melvin Smith, National Register of Historic Places

5. Doug Shelby, interviewed by Jaclyn Foster at Cottonwood Heights residence, February 3, 2019.

6. Alex Cabrero, “Thieves make away with $20,000 of copper wiring from Old Mill,” KSL News, November 17, 2011.