Ward House Theater

198 E. Avenue B,
Wendell, ID 83355

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Odeon Theater

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Sylvester Benton Shimp, Co-Owner of Odeon Theater

Originally in in 1909 by the Sanborn Insurance Company as a dance hall, skating rink and theater. The Odeon Theater was opened in summer of 1909. A photograph appeared in Exhibitors Herald and Moving Picture World on May 12, 1928. It shows a bearded 84 year-old R.M. Stanton, owner of the Odeon Theater, paying a visit to Paramount Studios in Hollywood. He was handing a ticket to his Wendell Theater to actress Doris Hill. However, it was noted that patrons of the Odeon Theater pay not as they enter but as they leave.

The Film Year Book of 1928 listed the Odeon Theater with 250 seats. By 1941 it was operating as the Ward House Theater. It had closed by 1943.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

John Eickhof
John Eickhof on March 10, 2015 at 2:48 am

When the new ACE theatre opened in 1945, the theatre in the photo above was operating and known as the Ward House Theatre and the building was originally the local ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It had approx. 300 seats with a balcony of approximately 60 seats. The Ward House continued exhibiting motion pictures for approximately a year when it closed to the public.

Searcher on July 11, 2015 at 12:46 am

My great-grand uncle became partner to R M Stanton, who managed the theater, sometime after 1920. In May 1922 he wrote “…the picture show house is a losing game since the War. Hope to sell out this next Fall. Think we would have sold out last Fall, but the Wendell Bank went ‘Broke’.” In November 1925 he wrote that they sold “our picture house here in Wendell” in August 1925.

robboehm on July 11, 2015 at 4:07 am

Searcher-Any family photos to share?

Searcher on July 12, 2015 at 7:53 pm

Yes, but none of the theater or area where he lived in Wendell. I have several portraits, but none during the era he owned the theater. Should I post them?

John Eickhof
John Eickhof on October 18, 2021 at 4:14 am

another note…the theatre building still exists today as a private residence, at some point prior to 1990, a two story addition was added to the northwest corner of the auditorium. While I was remodeling the ACE, I was able to tour the building. The stage and proscenium arch are still in place as well as the tiny balcony including a very small projection room. The main floor is flat and level, there are windows along the east and west walls. After the LDS church built their new ward house north of town, the theatre became home to a couple different churches, then a karate studio and then a residence in the 1990s. The front appears to have been remodeled the same time the addition was made.

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