Crest Theater

35 W. 2nd Street,
Reno, NV 89501

Unfavorite 3 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 26 comments

DennisCMyers on July 5, 2018 at 9:40 pm

The Wigwam theatre had a lot of live shows— plays, vaudeville, etc. At some point it added movies. The photograph here promotes the showing at the Wigwam of The Iron Horse, a John Ford movie. It was filmed in part near Reno, in Wadsworth to the east and Truckee to the West. The Crest was a Fox theatre and well known in town as the most expensive movie theatre. It was avoided unless there was something there that HAD to be seen, such as Elvis in Love Me Tender (I saw it and heard the screaming) or, much later, The Exorcist. I also recall seeing the original The Fly and (for some reason this forgotten teen flick sticks in my mind) A Swinging Summer. Downstairs there were the remains of what appeared to be a coatroom from the days when people checked their coats before the show. I note that the “Closed” icon at the top of this page is highlighted, but the “Demolished” icon is not. The Crest is gone. The Money Tree casino was built on the site and was always troubled and closed. It later became a night club but now stands empty.

The Wigwam coffee shop next door took its name from the theatre, but the coffee shop was not part of a chain and seems to have been independent of the theatre. The coffee shop was owned by Les Lerude, who according to his son Warren “started the Wigwam in the 30s, closed in early 70s, not part of any chain.” I recall that it promoted its apple pie with rum sauce— a sign painted on the west outer wall of the coffee shop mentioned the apple/rum pie. There was a counter and tables, but it like the theatre was small.

According to researcher Debbie Hinman, the Tower theatre last appeared in a Reno city directory in 1959. As Larry Goldsmith correctly notes, it was located between Pine and Liberty streets. To narrow it down still further, it was located between Pine and Ryland Streets. I recall seeing King and I at the Tower, and wanting to see but missing Tom Thumb. It was a very popular theatre. My brother recalls, “Tower had a deep lobby, the length of the bowling lanes which was next door.” It was very community based— children could get in with milk bottle tops on Saturdays, paintings by a couple of students at the Stewart Indian School were exhibited, that kind of thing. But the theatre was best known for something else. At the end of certain rows, there was one seat that was a seat and a half. These were highly favored by teen couples.

DavidZornig on September 10, 2016 at 6:12 pm

1944 photo as the Nevada Theater added courtesy of Stephen Gennerich‎.

rivest266 on May 1, 2016 at 1:54 pm

August 20th, 1942 grand opening ad as Nevada as well as the September 2nd, 1948 grand opening ad in photo section

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 19, 2014 at 3:43 pm

The November 23, 1994, issue of the Mineral County Independent-News, published at Hawthorne, Nevada, had a column prepared by the Nevada Historical Society which gave a brief biography of a Nevada pioneer named Henry Anderson. It says that “…he built the Wigwam Theatre Block on Second Street in downtown Reno in 1908-09….”

The Wigwam Theatre in Reno is mentioned in the February 13, 1910, issue of The San Francisco Call. At that time it was presenting live performances.

Here is a photo of the Wigwam Theatre which the University of Nevada dates to the period 1930-1948, but I think it’s more likely from 1924, the year the movie the stagecoach parked out front is promoting, The Iron Horse, was released.

Les Taylor
Les Taylor on June 18, 2011 at 10:15 pm

I believe I went to the Crest theater to watch Earthquake in the winter 1974 and it was in Sensurround.

asok10 on December 11, 2010 at 11:15 pm

First of all the Nevada Theater was not operating into the seventies. I first arrived in Reno in the fall of 1950 and the operating theaters were: Granada, Majestic, Tower, and the tiny Crest next to the Wigwam Coffee Shop. I had heard of the Victory Theater through a friend and if memory serves me correctly she said it was inside what was (in 1950) a small arcade of retail shops on North Virginia Street just north of East First Street. There were also two drive-ins, the Midway on South Virginia Street and the El Rancho in Sparks. She also told me that the Wigwam Theater was much bigger than the Crest but when remodeled some of the space was given to the Emporium Music Store behind it which resulted in a much smaller Crest Theater.

larrygoldsmith on March 27, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Correction to above location…..

The Tower Theatre was located on Virginia St. between Liberty St. and Pine St. The Pioneer Center is located at Virgnia St. and State St. A huge Wells Fargo Bank building sits where the Tower Theatre would have been. Sorry for the error.

johnwpalmer on March 21, 2009 at 9:01 pm

I can only remember going to the TOWER THEATRE once — the summer of ‘56. And then it was gone. Seems to me it was near the Riverside Hotel on South Virginia, maybe a block North on the other side of the street. I think I remember it being a somewhat “lower class” theatre.

Thanks for reminding me of the MIDWAY DRIVE-IN — getting smuggled in with my cousin in the trunk, trying to stay awake for the dusk-to-dawn shows. Happy days.

larrygoldsmith on March 21, 2009 at 7:43 pm

Such a nice little theatre, as few seats as it had, compared to larger downtown Reno theatres,ie Majestic at 1st & Center and the Granada on 1st St. the Crest was always the “big hit” house. It most certainly was re-done by Carl G. Moeller. It definetly had his style of the typical Skouras Fox house of the time. The Skouras-ized theatre will always be my favorite.

One thing I wonder about is the original name of Wigwam because on the corner of 2nd & Sierra St. was a Wigwam Coffee Shop which at the time was a chain of restaurants in the Nevada area. I wonder if there was a connection between the two in regards to ownership.

Before my time, there was also a TOWER THEATRE in the south Virginia St. area, I am not sure exactly where that was. I do remember the MIDWAY DRIVE_IN where Peppermill Hotel Casino now sits, on So. Virginia St.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 21, 2009 at 5:43 pm

Yes, the Boxoffice article confirms 1948 as the year the Nevada became the Crest. It was apparently called the Nevada for less than six full years, as the 1942 article said it had been the Wigwam before that year’s remodeling. I can’t find any earlier references to the Wigwam, so I don’t know how old it was when it became the Nevada.

One 1948 Boxoffice issue included an architects rendering of the remodeled Crest, but didn’t give the architect’s name. It was most likely done in-house by Fox, which means the lead architect would almost certainly have been Carl G. Moeller, who handled most of Fox’s designs during the Skouras era. In the pictures it certainly looks like his work.

larrygoldsmith on March 21, 2009 at 7:38 am

Joe I think the name change/remodel must have took place in 1948 , as the Nevada Theatre ads seem to run thru the 40’s. As far into 1946, the theatre was still advertising under the Nevada Theatre.My info came from a long time Reno guy who thought the change occured in 1950-51. I know it was Skouras-ized, more like in 48 than 50. It operated as the Crest since that time, until it closed in the early/mid 70’s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 20, 2009 at 8:56 pm

The Nevada Theatre was remodeled and renamed the Crest Theatre in 1948. The February 21, 1948, issue of Boxoffice Magazine had this to say:

“What used to be he Nevada Theatre here is being transformed into the swank new Crest under a $100,000 improvement program. Fox West Coast is turning it into a first run showcase.”
The article went on to say that the Nevada Theatre had been the Wigwam Theatre before another remodel a few years earlier. Fox West Coast owned the Nevada, but until a year before its transformation into the Crest it had been leased to T&D Jr. Enterprises.

My guess would be that the scan of the Nevada State Journal from which Ken got the 1943 opening date was a bit blurry, and was actually from 1948.

The July 18, 1942, issue of Boxoffice ran a line saying that the renovated Wigwam Theatre in Reno would reopen as the Nevada “next week.” This page should probably be renamed Crest Theatre, as that was apparently the final name, and the house was the Crest longer than it was the Nevada Theatre in any case.

larrygoldsmith on March 20, 2009 at 6:25 pm

Nevada Theatre was Skouras-ized with name change to CREST around 1950-51, if my sources are correct. I do believe info is correct, as the Skouras style was in line with the type of remodel done in the early 50’s. The jewel type box office told the whole story at time of remodel. Operated by Fox West Coast/National General Theatres for many years. Mann closed the Crest in early 70’s.

Writer on September 28, 2008 at 11:43 pm

I grew up in Reno/Sparks, and I remember the Crest theatre at least as long ago as 1959. The Crest was right nextto or nearly so, the Wigwam cafe where we always went for banana cream pie after the movie. My big sister and I would ride the bus downtown together and see the movie that was showing there at the Crest or at the Majestic or the Granada where my sister was later an usherette. No feet on the backs of the seats or the ushers and usherettes would shine a flashlight on you. They wore little pillbox hats and tidy but classy little uniforms. And Jock is right about the “Positively no- one admitted after the start of the movie.” The Granada was very “art Nuveau”, and soft green. You would pay at the ticket booth, then walk up a curved sloped upward carpeted pathway to the posh dreamily lighted snack bar. The orange drink was fountaining up into the top of its tall window to make you thirsty, and the wall sconces that lighted the way around the bend into the theatre itself were like seashells you could imagine in buildings during the Great Gatsby era. the candy in the display cases was lighted softly and it was too beautiful to be real, or so it seemed. It all made you feel very very rich and important.
Back to the Crest though! The Crest did not seem brand new then, though nice enough, and was very tiny. I do not remember ever hearing about the Nevada theatre at all. It was not in that block near the Wigwam Cafe by the time I was big enough to ride the bus downtown. We saw all the greatest movies like Mary Poppins, Exodus, and the Music Man at the Majestic. They must have had a run at the Crest at a different time. None of the other theatres in my opinion came anywhere close to the Majestic! It was just that!

johnwpalmer on January 15, 2008 at 5:38 pm

Re Old theaters in Reno, Nevada

I lived there from 1959 to 1966, and spent summers before that. No Nevada Theater by that time.
The Tower went out around 1957 or ‘58. It was on the seedy side. No balcony.
My favorite theater was the Majestic, handsdown. It had a double staircase up to a great balcony. The architecture was elaborate, like an old castle. My cousin Linda was the head usherette,so cousin Jesse and I never paid. Mr. Workman asked us to leave a few times when we were ditching school.
The Granada was two blocks west. It was somewhat larger, and a notch above the Majestic, but the back seats sloped upwards — not a true balcony. We saw “Psycho” there — Positively No One Admitted After Start Of Movie!
The other theater in town was the Crest — very, very small. It was the most expensive because all the seats were loge, and “better” movies were screened — South Pacific, Oklahoma, Sound of Music. It did have a small balcony — cramped.
Of all the places I’ve lived, Reno is #1 — The Biggest Little City In The World. O if money were no object.


Verlie on November 25, 2007 at 1:06 pm

I have never been to Reno but I am looking for information on someone that use to entertain in Reno in the 1940' ‘Smiling" Jimmy Doss a singing cowboy-trick roper, who worked at the Tower Theater in 1948 and also the Sparks Theater.

kencmcintyre on September 21, 2007 at 6:59 am

Here is a 1946 ad from the Nevada State Journal:

kencmcintyre on August 12, 2007 at 7:21 pm

Well, I added it, so let it be on my head.

kencmcintyre on August 12, 2007 at 7:02 pm

I will add it and maybe someone will have more info on what was actually going on back then.

kencmcintyre on August 12, 2007 at 6:52 pm

The ads were for the Crest in Reno.

kencmcintyre on August 12, 2007 at 6:51 pm

Here are excerpts from news articles on the same day:

After weeks of high speed construction in which crews of craftsmen worked on night shifts in order to meet the deadline, the Crest Theater, Nevada’s newest motion picture house, is ready for its formal opening tonight. The Crest, which replaces the old Nevada theater on West Second Street, has been completely reconstructed. Only the walls and roof of the original structure remain.

Many features insure theatergoers the finest sound entertainment available in the country. George Sayclak, who has been active in Reno theaters since the days of the old Wigwam theater and who is known as one of the finest projectionists in the west, will be the chief operator of the picture projectors at the Crest.

kencmcintyre on August 12, 2007 at 6:41 pm

Here are a photo and ad from the Nevada State Journal dated 9/2/43:

kencmcintyre on August 12, 2007 at 11:47 am

Good question. They both seem to be located on Second Street. Perhaps the Crest later returned to its original name. Or the Crest replaced the old Nevada, and then a new Nevada opened up on Second Street sometime in the forties.

kencmcintyre on August 12, 2007 at 10:48 am

An article in the Nevada State Journal dated 9/2/43 stated that the Crest Theater had replaced the old Nevada Theater on W. Second Street. The Crest was a Fox West Coast theater.

kencmcintyre on October 23, 2006 at 9:03 am

Here is an ad from 1923 with some Reno theaters. The Nevada is not listed, which doesn’t mean it didn’t exist at that time, of course: