|When the summer heat in Boulder City would reach above 110 degrees, the workers living in tiny bungalows without air conditioning needed a place to cool down before going to work or after returning from a hot, hard day. And the Boulder Theatre was the place to go. May 14, 1932 the Boulder Theatre not only opened its doors to offer ‘round-the-clock entertainment to the residents of Boulder City, but also provided patrons a state-of-the-art cooling system that was a welcome relief to escape the heat. Since this was the only entertainment located within the city limits, the lines to enter the theatre could stretch as long as a block.
Earl Brothers was hired to manage the theatre, and offering great customer service was what he did very well. According to long time resident Lillian Whalen, movies would begin showing at 11 a.m. and continue throughout the day so as to allow the dam workers to seek shelter from the hot weather to either sleep or watch a movie. A large number of workers had no way of escaping the scorching heat in their tiny bungalows and would spend hours inside the movie house simply sleeping. Brothers was so good to the Boulder City residents he not only allowed the dam workers to sleep in the theatre, but he also invited the children in to watch matinees and enjoy small parties. Erma Godbey, another resident, also remembers how Brothers would offer a drawing once a month, which might consist of free tickets to attend the movies, or a cash giveaway.
And the theatre was not used only for movies. High school graduations, dance recitals, beauty pageants, vaudeville performances, and radio shows hosted their programs in the building as well. Also, according to Dennis McBride in his book, “In the Beginning”, Will Rogers and Boris Karloff performed live performances on stage. Also, according to McBride, in 1933 the government granted permission to Brothers to open a Tourist Bureau on the second floor of the theatre above the lobby where he sold various Boulder Dam souvenirs, books and brochures. At one end of the room Brothers also showed a documentary of the Boulder Dam construction to the tourists coming through Boulder City while visiting the dam.
On behalf of the Boulder City Museum and Historical Association.