Willoughby: More than a century of videos at the Isis

The Isis theater as it looked in 1939. Aspen Historic Modern society/Courtesy Photo The pandemic

The Isis theater as it looked in 1939. Aspen Historic Modern society/Courtesy Photo

The pandemic stopped a 105-year streak of steady flicks at the Isis. The full heritage of cinema has performed out there.

The Isis is in the Webber Block constructed by Henry Webber, who was mayor of Aspen in 1888. He arrived to Aspen in 1880, experienced a shoe retailer and was a lover in the Emma Mine. The significant brick building housed a wholesale make business in the beginning and then was dwelling to Landgreen and Hickey Wallpaper and Paint for several a long time.

It grew to become a theater in 1915. Like the town getting above the building in modern-day occasions, the Women’s Civic Improvement League turned it into a theater to host group situations mainly because the Opera Property had closed a few decades earlier because of to the hearth that ruined the theater portion. The creating with a higher ceiling and a good deal of space only needed seating. The Improvement League salvaged seats from the Wheeler.



This was at the time when silent movies were being the rage so the new house accommodated silent movies and considering that the chain of theaters that bundled Leadville and Glenwood was known as the Isis, Aspen’s new theater was in the same way named.

All kinds of civic events ended up held there. University activities, like graduations and college plays ended up staged well into the 1950s. The 4H held style demonstrates there. Episcopal companies were housed.



Silent motion pictures started in September of 1915 with an admission rate of 15 cents. ($3.25 in today’s bucks)

Kenneth Hanson, who owned Aspen Drug, obtained the constructing in 1924 and partnered with James Parson who also was a partner in Aspen Drug to continue displaying videos. In 1934 they upgraded the theater for ‘talkies’.

Parson took over all of the theater procedure and operated it with extended household members filling all of the positions. In 1949 he remodeled the theater. Prior to that time it experienced the opening you see in the photo. Parson closed it in and remodeled the foyer incorporating the most crucial merchandise, an automatic popcorn device.

He replaced the seats and solved one of the building’s big troubles, it was freezing chilly. To resolve the issue he decreased the ceiling and lined it, and all of the partitions, with the magic insulator of the time, Celotex. He painted the Celotex in a colour that was intended to replicate temples of the Egyptian goddess Isis.

For quite a few many years the Isis scheduled a single movie a 7 days, but Parson additional extra motion picture improvements and a lot more open up evenings closing only on Mondays. The cost greater in the 1950s to 50 cents. ( $4.00 in today’s pounds)

The Isis released an additional movie improve, CinemaScope in 1955, one I remember. The film innovation concerned the lens utilized in filming, but what it did was make it possible for for a wider display that in the Isis meant 1 that was just about as vast as the theater. It was ideal timing because people article CinemaScope years ended up stuffed with Hollywood ‘epic’ movies. I keep in mind seeing The King and I, The Ten Commandments, and Ben Hur.

Dining places in Aspen come and go pretty much yearly, retail retailers adjust hands and names pretty much as frequently. With the exception of two churches and the Jerome there is virtually absolutely nothing with steady use that stretches again to 1915.

Tim Willoughby’s loved ones tale parallels Aspen’s. He commenced sharing folklore when teaching Aspen Place Working day College and Colorado Mountain Faculty. Now a tourist in his indigenous town, he sights it with historical standpoint. Achieve him at [email protected].