398 Main Street,
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Previous Names: Sigwart Opera House
According to the Mountain Democrat, the Elite Theater was originally built as the Sigwart Opera House in the 1880’s.
It was reported on February 17, 1912, that Mrs. J.B. Travelle had obtained a three year lease of the building from J.A. Sigwart and was in a the process of renovation. Included was the addition of a pitch to the floor to accommodate 400 chairs. On March 21, 1914, it was announced: “A new machine has been installed in the Elite Theater. It is the best and latest model on the market. The pictures projected are absolutely perfect in every detail. If you have the weakest of eyes do not fear, as this machine throws a picture that is absolutely without a flicker of any sort. Go and see for yourself. One may sit within two feet of the curtain without the slightest injury to eyes".
On March 27, 1929, the Mountain Democrat reported on the total loss by fire of the Elite Theater. It turned out that a bootlegger, who hid his cache under a stairway in the theater, might have caused the fire. The man said he became unnerved when he heard footsteps and made a hasty retreat, leaving his cigarette burning. Authorities said they believed that there was more to the story than the man told them.
Placerville had hopes for a new theater on the site but the city condemned the property to widen Main Street. Also, Mrs. Travelle, the ex-operator, had moved on to buy a theater in Folsom. Finally, on September 19, 1930, the new Empire Theatre opened two buildings away.
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