Filed Under Great Falls

Liberty Theatre

Great Falls Central Business Historic District

Thirty-six hundred people watched Nomads of the North at the grand opening of the Liberty Theatre in August 1921. A musical score, played on a $47,000 Wurlitzer organ, accompanied the silent film. An overflow crowd of two thousand toured the theater’s lavishly appointed interior. The Renaissance Revival style building, designed by Great Falls architect George Shanley, also housed shops, apartments, offices, and a bowling alley. Outside, floodlights illuminated decorative terra cotta while cascading lights mimicked an Italian fountain, and other lights spelled out the name of the eighteen-hundred-seat theater. Two glowing terra-cotta torches atop the cornice emitted red smoke, an illusion created through the use of red lights and forced steam. Like other movie palaces of its day, the Liberty Theatre promised excitement and luxury with décor that alluded both to American patriotism and old world extravagance. Thirty cents transported moviegoers into a world of wealth and privilege—and not just on the screen. The Liberty’s rest rooms and men’s smoking room offered patrons “every convenience from maid service to engraved stationery and telephone.”

Images

Liberty Theatre Liberty Theatre (PAc 91-51 Great Falls R19 F21). Front view of the building, facing north to northeast on Central Avenue. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office from the Photograph Archives at the Montana Historical Society Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: 1983

Location

301 Central Avenue, Great Falls, Montana | Private

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Liberty Theatre,” Historic Montana, accessed February 4, 2023, https://historicmt.org/items/show/186.