Photo: Gem Theater Crowd – Ca. 1916

Photo: Gem Theater Crowd – Ca. 1916

In the early 1900s, people didn’t have many entertainment options at home. Until radio came along in the late 1920s, they really needed to get out into the town to find amusement. By 1909, Durango had three theater stages, two opera houses and various saloons, gambling dens and dance halls. The first “moving picture” theater in Durango opened downtown in 1912 as a small nondescript place for showing films. By 1913, it was enlarged, enhanced and rechristened “The Gem.” According to one newspaper, it was “the most up-to-the-minute place of its kind.” It originally had 287 olive-colored padded seats. They continued to expand within the building and eventually it seated 500. The Gem hosted movies, stage productions, concerts, boxing matches and lectures. For many years, it was considered to be Durango’s prime entertainment venue. The Gem was located in what today is the Jarvis Building at the corner of 10th Street and Main Avenue. It closed by the early 1930s due in part, according to one source, to the advent of talking pictures. Though it was reopened in 1938, it closed for good at the start of World War II.

Ed Horvat for Animas Museum, edhorvat@animasmuseum.org

Photo: Gem Theater Crowd – Ca. 1916

In the early 1900s, people didn’t have many entertainment options at home. Until radio came along in the late 1920s, they really needed to get out into the town to find amusement. By 1909, Durango had three theater stages, two opera houses and various saloons, gambling dens and dance halls. The first “moving picture” theater in Durango opened downtown in 1912 as a small nondescript place for showing films. By 1913, it was enlarged, enhanced and rechristened “The Gem.” According to one newspaper, it was “the most up-to-the-minute place of its kind.” It originally had 287 olive-colored padded seats. They continued to expand within the building and eventually it seated 500. The Gem hosted movies, stage productions, concerts, boxing matches and lectures. For many years, it was considered to be Durango’s prime entertainment venue. The Gem was located in what today is the Jarvis Building at the corner of 10th Street and Main Avenue. It closed by the early 1930s due in part, according to one source, to the advent of talking pictures. Though it was reopened in 1938, it closed for good at the start of World War II.

Ed Horvat for Animas Museum, edhorvat@animasmuseum.org