A theatrical event in the open air!

Orpheum Theater - Interior (Conrad Schmitt Studios)

That’s the effect Phoenix architects Lescher & Mahoney had in mind when designing the intricate murals and highly embellished moldings inside the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix.

Construction on the Spanish Revival style  building commenced in 1927 on the SW corner of Adams Street and 2nd Avenue, and completed in 1929 for a Grand Total of $750,000 dollars.  The theater remained in the original ownership and operation of J.E. Rickards and Harry Nace, until the 1940’s when Paramount Pictures bought them out and changed the name to The Paramount.

Orpheum Theater - in the shadow of the new City Hall, downtown Phoenix.

Another change of ownership occurred in the 1960’s when Nederlander, the largest operators of live theater, purchased the building and named it Palace West. They utilized the theater as a stop on their Broadway circuit until leasing it to the Coronas family during the 1970’s and 80’s for the exclusive use of presenting Latino entertainment.  However, at some point in this time frame the Coronas’ believed the elaborate interior distracted the audience from the entertainment, so they painted over the beautiful murals and classic moldings with black paint.

Detail of the exterior

Today, thanks to the City of Phoenix for purchasing the property in 1984, and Conrad Schmitt Studios for 12 years of restoration, the theater is now home to the Phoenix Metropolitan  Opera, and again carries the historic name, Orpheum Theatre.

It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Coordinates:  33 26 56.73 N   112 04 33.30 W

Address:  203 West Adams Street  Phoenix, AZ 85003-1602


About © Rita Boehm

Copyright 2015 Rita Boehm. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Photographs, artwork, and/or related text are available for licensing. Contact writer for further information
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