Compiled by Shawn Lamb
Pre-1930: Movies and live presentations shown at the Nelson Opera House (1898 – 1935), and the Gem, Starland, Emire, and Capitol theatres.
1930: Mayor Barnes authorized by City Council to collect data for a new civic theatre/auditorium for Nelson. The site identified was the 800 block of Vernon Street, north side (former site of the Nelson Fair building).
December 1930: By-law for a $150,000 building to include library, market, city offices and auditorium was introduced and soundly defeated on Dec 24, 1930.
May 1934: Editorial in Nelson Daily News calls for City Council to bring a sound auditorium proposal to the public this year.
January 1935: Conceptual plans for a multifaceted complex presented, including skating and curling rinks and dressing rooms, auditorium, recreation/meeting hall with gallery, meeting rooms and offices.
March, 1935: Alderman Tom Waters heads committee to draw up arrangements for a new Nelson auditorium by-law. Architects McCarter & Nairne begin to work up plans for the new building. Managing committee of of 10 local community leaders formed to lead campaign for new centre.
April 3, 1935: By-law passes for Civic Centre. Construction begins on skating/curling section, then proceeds to auditorium/recreation hall section.
April 25, 1936: Formal opening of the new auditorium; 954 seats.
July 3, 1936: Civic Centre Commission approached by businessmen interested in leasing the auditorium for movies. Unanimous decision: “no”.
1937: Revenue for Civic Theatre for April – November 1937 was just $900. 10-year lease for a movie theatre was reconsidered, and the lessors signed a 10-year lease with a clause providing for continuous operation of the auditorium as a picture show with the possibility of a further 10 years, on a sliding scale of costs. The lease provided that community organizations could use the auditorium by arrangement with the lessors under a set scale of rates. Lessors included Messrs Winters and Butler, Beatty and Johnson’s Kootenay Amusement Company (later Civic Theatres Ltd).
1938: Famous Players took over the lease and operated the theatre until the 1970s, after which a number of private operators leased the Civic Theatre until recently.
2011: The Theatre sits in limbo.