Gila Theatre

415 N. Bullard Street,
Silver City, NM 88061

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Dollison Theaters, Gibraltar Enterprises Inc., Silco Theatres

Architects: August A. Neuner

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Nearby Theaters

News About This Theater

May 1977 Schedule

A fantastic example of a small town movie palace.

The 1950 Gila Theatre was the first movie house in the area to feature a built-in candy concession, it sports a combination of standard auditorium layout which rises around the entrances at the rear to a stadium-style arrangement. The original marquee is still intact, sans neon, and the auditorium features two-story high murals of stylized dancing Indians – murals being the unifying feature of Silver City movie houses.

The Gila Theatre was the last of the theatres in the locally owned Silco Theatres chain, a charter member of the Gibraltar Enterprises circuit based in Denver, which included the Lensic Theater in Santa Fe. The other Silco Theatres were the Silco, and El Sol, both downtown in Silver City, the Sky-Vue Drive-In, the Tejo in Hurley, and El Cobre in Santa Rita.

The Gila Theatre went through a succession of owners after the death of Silco Theatres founder Edward W. Ward in 1957, and was purchased by Dollison Theaters in 1978, and underwent a minor renovation.

The theatre was closed in 1988, and the building was donated to the town of Silver City, who considered renovating the building into a performing arts space, or demolishing it for downtown parking. After years of indecision, the Gila Theatre was sold by the town in 1995 to Richard and Donna Medina, who, with their family, partially restored the building and reopened it as a first-run movie house.

In the summer of 2003, the Gila Theatre closed once again.

Contributed by Nickolas Seibel

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

kencmcintyre on November 30, 2007 at 4:09 am

Sale price is 639K. There are a few photos on the loopnet site:

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on February 25, 2008 at 1:32 am

A late 1970s photo of the Gila Theater in Silver City during happier times showing “The Sound of Music”.

Anthony L. Vazquez-Hernandez
Anthony L. Vazquez-Hernandez on October 5, 2019 at 11:26 pm

Gibraltar Enterprises needs to be added as a past operator

MichaelKilgore on December 5, 2019 at 6:25 pm

The Feb. 4, 1950 Boxoffice wrote that several visitors from Denver attended “the opening of the Gila, Ed Ward’s new theatre in Silver City, N. M.”

MichaelKilgore on September 8, 2022 at 5:24 pm

While researching the Sky-Vue Drive-In, I happened upon the Gila’s transition to Dollison.

Boxoffice, August 24, 1967: “Lowell Cain, Silco Theatres, Silver City, N.M., was re-elected for another term as mayor of Silver City.”

Boxoffice, April 15, 1968: “About 80 high school and college students picketed the Gila Theatre in downtown Silver City after it was announced that the hardtop film house was closing down. Silver City theatreman Lowell Cain, who manages the house as well as serves as mayor of this city of 6,900 persons … said that henceforth all first-run pictures normally run at the Gila will be shown at the Skyview (sic) Drive-In, which Cain also manages.”

Boxoffice, May 13, 1968: “Lester Dollison will reopen the Gila Theatre in Silver City, N.M. The house had been operated by Lowell Cain who closed it about a month ago. The reopening will be set after the installation of new seating and projection equipment. Dollison also operates the Starlighter Drive-In in Silver City, in addition to theaters in Espanola, Santa Rosa and Socorro, N.M.”

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