New Moon Theatre

318 Main Street,
Neligh, NE 68753

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Additional Info

Architects: Henry A. Raapke

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Nearby Theaters

Outside May 16th 2015

Replacing an earlier Moon Theatre which was damaged in an explosion on March 10, 1944 (which has its own page on Cinema Treasures). Opened on September 28, 1944, the New Moon Theatre was a single screen theatre showing first run movies. It was operated by J & J Theatres and was closed by July 2016.

The owner of this theatre also owns the Starlite Drive-In located in Neligh, NE.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

matth68801 on February 4, 2006 at 9:36 pm

the same people own the new moon as the starlight. So in the summer they close the new moon and operate the starlight drivein.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 18, 2009 at 12:38 am

The New Moon was a wartime theater, featured in an article published in the December 2, 1944, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. It was designed in a simplified Art Moderne style by Omaha architect H.A. Raapke, a member of the Modern Theatre Planning Institute’s board of architectural advisors.

Materials used in construction were confined largely to those not restricted by the War Production Board. Raapke chose to use a stone base surmounted by glazed brick in black and cream for the facade, and the entrance lobby was floored with asphalt tile in a herringbone pattern.

Pre-war carpet was found for the inner lobby and the auditorium’s aisles, and both inner and outer lobbies received wallboard paneling with an imitation walnut finish. The ceiling of the 552-seat auditorium featured three offsets concealing indirect lighting from fluorescent tubes, and the walls were paneled in an acoustic material. The auditorium’s decoration was mostly stenciled, some of it using the crescent moon shape which was the theater’s signature. The theater’s facade had a small central tower surmounted by a neon crescent moon.

The original owner-operator of the new Moon was Mr. W.B. Bradley. The town of Neligh had a population of 1,649 at the time the theater was built.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 6, 2011 at 5:53 am

In the architect field above, the surname Raapke is currently missing the “e” at the end.

A recent photo by David Hunnicutt depicting the New Moon’s tower and the upper edge of its facade can be seen this web page.

The December 2, 1944, Boxoffice article with photos of the New Moon as it originally looked is now available from the magazine’s online archive. The article begins on this page. More photos are on the subsequent page, and additional text is on this page.

Trolleyguy on July 5, 2016 at 6:58 pm

Status should be closed. Phone disconnected and Facebook page indicates permanently closed. The drive-in is still open.

dallasmovietheaters on September 1, 2020 at 5:11 am

The New Moon replaced the previous Moon Theatre opening on September 28, 1944. The original Moon Theatre suffered an explosion on March 10, 1944 that destroyed the west side of Main Street taking it, the J.C. Penney store, a jewelery store and a drug store. Witnesses said the roof of the Moon was lifted off by ten feet and window damage was a block away. Operator Walt Bradley moved future screenings to nearby Clearwater’s Palace Theatre until the New Moon’s launch.

50sSNIPES on June 24, 2022 at 7:27 pm

The previous Moon Theatre opened its doors on July 30, 1925 with Colleen Moore in “Sally” along with an Our Gang comedy in “In Big Business” and a performance by the theater’s 4-piece orchestra named after the theater.

The explosion and fire back on March 9, 1944 was considered as the worst fire in the city’s history, caused by an electric failure. The explosion occurred an hour after the fire began gutting caused by accumulated gas that blew out both ends of the theater and lifted the roof about ten feet into the air. Plate glass windows nearly a block away were broken by the force of the blast. Two men were injured with one completely critical. The list of Fire Departments that responded to the call were Neligh, Elgin, Oakdale, Tilden, Clearwater, and Brunswick. This caused an estimated $200,000 of damage though substantially covered by insurance from the destruction of the Moon Theatre, the J.C. Penney store, the Hewitt jewelry store, and the Wanek Drug Store. Right when the fire occurred, an alarm hasn’t been sounded until 20 minutes later. The Moon Theatre was originally scheduled to show its second out of its two-day run of “Nine Girls” and “Uncensored” but was cancelled due to the explosion and fire.

A few months after the fire and explosion wrecked half of downtown Neligh, it was then time for a rebuilt of the Moon Theatre. The brick work on the front was done by Mr. Overton, and Mr. Walt Bradley (the long time owner of the Moon) had returned back to his duties at the Moon.

The New Moon Theatre was then rebuilt with a 562 seating capacity, a 25ft stage, fireproof machinery, and a 35ft tower marquee. It then opened its doors on September 28, 1944 with Red Skelton in “Bathing Beauty” along with a few unnamed short subjects (but a strange error shows that the short subjects were not listed on the grand opening advertisement page, but were listed on the article).

Other information involving the theater involves a manager’s office at the right side of the main room which contains a stairway, and the left side containing bathrooms, powder rooms, and a cry room. The concession booth as of 1944 was located at the left side with the lobby floor being an asphalt tile with walnut-grained walls. Inside contains rugs extend down the two aisles in the auditorium and the semi-indirect fluorescent lightning. Two dressing rooms were equipped as well as border lights and an orchestra pit.

Walter Bradley, the operator of both Moon Theatres, would later open the Starlite Auto Theater (later the Starlite Drive-In) on July 31, 1952.

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