21st Street and Saratoga Avenue,
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A theater built for the off-base housing community of Babbitt Nevada, adjacent to the Naval Ammunition Depot, Hawthorne.
Designated LCH-7 (Low Cost Housing building 7), the Babbitt Theatre opened for business in August 1943. The original opening date of August 8th was postponed due to delays in obtaining equipment and furniture. The plan was to postpone the opening until August 29th, but a newspaper advertisement on the 25th stated the Babbitt Theatre was open for business.
When it initially opened, the Babbitt Theatre advertised one show per nite, 8 p.m., 3 p.m. matinee on Sunday. Prices were 50¢ for adults, 25¢ for children, and 44¢ for servicemen.
Improvements to the building followed, and a November 17 item in the Mineral County Independent News mentions acoustical felt being added to the walls to improve sound.
The theatre was operated by Charles Leonard from 1949 to 1957. Active management of the theatre was taken over by Mrs. Elizabeth Bearden (owner of the Cactus and Desert Theaters) on September 1, 1957, roughly the same time she purchased the Mineralite Drive-In in Hawthorne.
In a photo from late-1954 that time the building can be seen featuring a vertical sign reading simply ‘Theatre’.
During much of its operational history, the theatre, like the Babbitt community was segregated, and "negro" patrons were required to sit in the the back rows, behind a velvet rope.
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How the town of Babbitt ever got to be built so a Babbit Theater could open and how the town dissapeared.
The U.S. Naval Ammunition Depot Hawthorne, Nevada, now Hawthorne Army Depot (in the middle a nowhere, a good place for such a place to be built) was built at the beginning of World War II. Civilians were needed to work in the Depot and those civilians needed a place to live. The Navy built a whole new town next to Hawthorne. It was named for Captain (that’s equal to an Army Colonel) H.S. Babbitt Inspector of Ordnance in Charge of the Depot. Babbitt of course needed a theater. As time went on the civilians were no longer needed. The last residents left Babbitt in 1987. All the buildings have been torn down except for a school building and a bowling alley. Talk about a GHOST TOWN, go to the map and see what it looks like with everything gone, but the streets!
Anyone have more info or photos?
Retired Navy Chief Bob Jensen