The Shiner brothers, Deward and Alson, opened the luxurious Vernal Theatre, across the from you, in March 1946. Patrons stepped on beautiful carpets as they chose between three sizes of “body-form” seats. Plush draperies hid the giant screen. A marimba player entertained guests before the movie began. That the rest room fixtures didn’t match was trivial. Everyone knew builders had to make do with whatever they could get immediately after World War II.
While the theater had a classy atmosphere, it specialized in second-run films during its first eighteen months. It took that long for a film to work its way through the distribution system after its release in New York.
Saturday matinees were eagerly attended by anxious youngsters. Although the theater seated 530 people, the odds were you might not find a seat if you came late. Matinees included a cartoon, a “short” (weekly installment of a serial starring popular actors), and a full-length movie. On weekdays, a cartoon and a newsreel preceded the feature film.
Being a theater usher became the most popular job in town for teens. Ushers escorted late customers to their seats and were allowed to watch the shows. The worst theater job was sitting alone in the box office on cold winter nights.
Over the years, the arts of film making and projecting have changed immensely, but the Shiners, who still own the theater, have kept up with the changes. They renovated the Vernal Theatre in 1984. The bathroom fixtures match now.
This is #15 of the 21 stop history walking tour in downtown Vernal, Utah. See the other stops on this page:
This marker is located at 45 East Main Street in Vernal, Utah and is about the Vernal Theatre across the street at 40 East Main Street in Vernal, Utah.