The history of Blackfoot’s Nuart Theater

Phillips

Author and historian Christina Phillips is a sixth-generation Idahoan. Her ancestors have come from various counties throughout Idaho including Fremont, Teton, Idaho, Benewah and Bannock. She has published historical narratives throughout the world, helping others to explore the history of the people, places and things that have come before them. To learn more about her, visit winningherwaytofame.blogspot.com.

Since touring the Chief Theatre in Pocatello at a very young age, shortly before it burned to disrepair, I have always had a deep love for old theaters. There have been many beautiful theaters in the state of Idaho and Bingham County is no exception.
The Nuart Theater,195 N. Broadway in Blackfoot, is one of the most beautiful in the area and is one of the only historic theaters left standing in the state. In fact, the Nuart Theater is one of only seven theaters in Idaho to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The time in which the Nuart was built is up for debate. The Blackfoot Chamber of Commerce states that the theater was built in the 1920’s during the silent film era and was equipped with the technology to show “talkies” in 1930.
However, upon interviewing Paul and Alice DeMordaunt, founders of the Nuart, on Sept. 17, 1978, for the oral history program, the Idaho State Historical Society claims that the Nuart Theater celebrated opening day on Feb. 12, 1930, the first showing being “Sunnyside Up”.
According to the interview, the Nuart Theater was designed by Paul DeMordaunt’s brother, Walter. At the time, the theater had seats for 620 guests and cost $120,000 to build, what would be around $1.6 million today. Paul DeMordaunt would go on to start approximately 10 other theaters in the state of Idaho.
The same year that the interview of Paul and Alice DeMordaunt took place (1978), the Nuart Theater was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
After a time of neglect, a considerable amount of restoration was done by the Blackfoot Community Players and volunteers from the community. The Nuart Theater was reopened in 1988. According to the Blackfoot Chamber of Commerce, the full stage of the theater, including the dressing areas underneath the stage, have been preserved as well as the Art-Deco motif throughout, keeping the historical integrity of the building intact.
Today the Nuart Theater is still owned and operated by the Blackfoot Community Players and is used for various community events involving the performing arts.
To view photos and to find more information about the beautiful Nuart Theater, visit winningherwaytofame.blogspot.com.
Sources: Blackfoot Chamber of Commerce, Idaho State Historical Society, National Register of Historic Places.