Driving along Tabernacle Street in downtown St George, you may have noticed a new marquee touting The Electric Theater. Recently, The Stage Door Theater Company performed “Chicago” the musical inside The Electric Theater. But not everyone knows of the diversity of shows that have been performed inside this historic building’s walls. Furthermore, not everyone is aware of all the city has planned for The Electric Theater in the future.
The Electric Theater | beginnings
According to the Washington County Historical Society’s web page, The Electric Theater was built in 1911. The 220-seat theater was the project of the St. George Amusement Company. Two noteworthy features of The Electric Theater, particularly for its time: It was built with three-feet thick adobe walls and it was the first air-conditioned building in town. The latter fact alone was likely a selling point for anyone seeking respite from the triple-digit summer heat.
Even with all of this, The Electric Theater’s original cost was approximately $7,500.
Twenty-one years later, R.M. Reber purchased The Electric Theater and remodeled it and renamed the Gaiety Theater. It retained that name until 1991 when Reber renovated the theater and restored the original name.
Up until 1999 the Electric Theater showed movies. Many who grew up in St. George area have memories of attending some of their silver screen favorites at The Electric Theater.
A change of focus
Then, in 2003, the Flowers family reopened The Electric Theater, this time using it as a venue for live entertainment. Traveling musicians on the road to hopeful stardom made The Electric Theater a stop on their tour list. The venue allowed for 143 seats open to the public, with the balcony reserved for the band members and their guests. Couches, tables, buffet table and more made it a comfortable gathering space with 50 seats.
After serving as a space for battle of the bands competitions, concerts from a host of musical genres from alternative to pop to screamo sounds, and even a School of Rock music school, the Flowers decided it was time to get out of The Electric Theater game.
In February 2013, the City of St. George purchased The Electric Theater and the surrounding parcels of land from Craig and Linda Flowers for $950,000. A full renovation ensued, revealing the current Electric Theater venue during a grand opening in August 2015.
The Electric Theater today
The plan for The Electric Theater, according to the city of St. George web site, is to serve as “an anchor for the arts while collaborating with and supporting, promoting and fostering visual and performing arts groups and emerging artists.” The mission statement goes on to say, “thus educating strengthening and inspiriting access and explore to a diverse program of arts for our community.”
As mentioned before, The Electric Theater recently served as the stage whereon The Stage Door theater company could perform plays such as “Chicago,” “Young Frankenstein,” “Jekyll and Hyde” and more. Certainly the Stage Door is not the only group utilizing The Electric Theater. Periodic concerts featuring local musicians like Lyndy Butler, as well as Foreign Figures and Dylan Gardner are on the schedule.
Art next door
Next door to The Electric Theater itself, and with a convenient interior door connecting the two, is the Electric Theater Center. Inside is a beautifully appointed art gallery known as the Arrowhead Gallery.
The name is tied to the previous business that occupied the space: Arrowhead Department Store. According to the gallery’s web site, the Arrowhead name hearkens back to the original highway from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to Salt Lake City. Tee route opened in 1917 and followed Route 91 through St. George along what is now Tabernacle Street — right in front of The Electric Theater.
The Arrowhead Gallery is a non-profit fine art gallery featuring a diverse collection of artwork from a variety of media. According to the Arrowhead Gallery’s web site, the gallery represents more than 25 artists from throughout Southern Utah.
A few of the artists
Some of the artists featured include Charlie Kessner and Dave Hammaker. The entire list, available on the Arrowhead Gallery web site. Furthermore, that list includes other familiar local names such as Glen Blakley, Mel Scott, Barbara Marchant, Barry Gray and more.
The gallery itself is a collaboration between the Southern Utah Art Guild and the City of St. George. The goal is to have The Electric Theater Center serve as a cornerstone for the city center art district. If you haven’t had the chance to walk through and view the artwork, it’s definitely worth a trip downtown.
Electric Theater near you
Think you would enjoy living in an area with such a dedication to fine art and performing arts? Plus the desire to preserve historic buildings? You don’t have to live in the heart of downtown to enjoy all of the beauty of these historic buildings. There are many home listings in the immediate surrounding area. Check out these home listings here.