Roxy Theater

University Area Historic District

Neighboring business owners welcomed the Roxy Theater by purchasing more than a page of newspaper advertisements recognizing “the latest addition to Missoula’s South Side Business District!” Missoula suffered less than most Montana communities during the Great Depression—it was one of the few towns to see its population increase—but construction of a new building was still reason to rejoice. Oscar and Joan Paisley spent $35,000 (worth approximately $415,000 in 2007) on the reinforced-concrete building, whose Art Deco style celebrated the possibilities of the modern age. Designed with special attention to acoustics, the 1937 theater boasted air conditioning, the latest sound equipment, and seats “trimmed with chromium.” The Paisleys, who also owned theaters in Hamilton, Stevensville, and St. Ignatius, named their new venture for the famous Roxy Theater in New York. The 630-seat Roxy featured second-run movies (two to three months after their original release) for half the price of first-run houses. Adults paid a quarter and children only a dime to lose themselves in the romance and excitement of a Hollywood spectacular and forget the Depression’s sometimes grim realities.

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718 South Higgins Avenue, Missoula, Montana ~ Private