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The Lobo was the last of the great Albuquerque theaters. Catering to UNM students and die-hard “Rocky Horror” fans, it was the last theater in the city that still featured an accessible balcony (The Highland Theater, in operation at the same time, still had a balcony, but it was in poor repair and patrons were not allowed to access it). The last film I saw there was Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. That was several years before it closed. They used to have a great Oscar telecast there. Sadly, this great lady has become a church.
This is not the same “Loma” Theater that burned in the 50s. That building was located several blocks away on the east side of the city plaza.
The current building housing the the Loma was built around the turn of the century as a large general store by the Price Brothers. The Price Brothers were bought out in 1904 by the Lowenstein Brothers, and the building is listed on the State Historic Register as the Price-Lowenstein Mercantile Building. It is a wood frame and brick building with a cavernous basement that runs the entire length of the building. Following the deaths of all three Lowenstein brothers, the building became a National Guard armory in 1921. The original Loma Theater was located several blocks away. It burned in 1957. Around the same time, a new armory was built outside of town, and the P-LM Building was rennovated to house the Loma, circa 1960.
The original auditorium featured seating for more than 600 in three sections; a large center section with wing sections on either side. The front of the theater featured bench seating for kids. A stage platform just in front of the screen was accessible by steps on either side of the auditorium. At the time it was privately-owned, and the owners used to stage contests for younger audiences (aisle races, talent shows, etc.) during weekend matinees in the 70s. The theater also featured two special viewing rooms located at the back of the auditorium. On the right side was a “crying roomâ€, accessible from the auditorium, where parents could take crying infants. To the left was a smoking room, accessible via a narrow stairway from the lobby. Sound was provided to these rooms via drive-in speakers!
The Loma underwent an extensive remodel around 1986. Both wing areas were removed, as were the special viewing rooms, effectively cutting seating in half. The left wing area became part of the adjacent First State Bank. The bench seating was removed along with the stage, and the screen was downsized and brought forward. The current auditorum has little more than half the floor space of the original. The original entrance alcove was done away with, resulting in the flat-faced building you see in the pictures. The facade was stuccoed to give it the apparence of Spanish Mission-style architecture.