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Nevada Theatre
Nevada Theater-4.jpg
Location 401 Broad Street,
Nevada City, California
Built 1865
NRHP reference No. 73000417
Added to NRHP March 14, 1973

The Nevada Theatre, also known as the Cedar Theatre, located in downtown Nevada City, California, is California's oldest existing theater building. Its principal periods of significance were 1850–1874, 1875–1899, 1900–1924, and 1925–1949.

History

After the three-story Bailey House Hotel, at Broad and Bridge Streets, burned down in 1863, the Nevada Theatre Association began fundraising for a new building. Stock was sold at $100 a share, and a ball was held June 1865 to cover the remaining costs for the rustic vernacular Victorian building. The building's architect, builder, and engineer are unknown. When the theater opened on September 9, 1865, the first performance was the John Poole two-act comedy entitled The Dutch Governor, or 'Twould Puzzle a Conjurer.

Silent films were screened as early as 1908, and the theater underwent a remodel in 1909, retrofitted as a movie house. A slanted floor and electric lights were added in 1915. By 1957, it closed because of a sluggish economy, but it was later purchased through public donations and reopened in 1968.

Building

With over 200 seats, including balcony seating, the theater is in use year round for both live performance and movies. It is wheelchair accessible.

The backstage area is located under the stage and is painted baby blue. It includes a small room with makeup mirrors.

Performers

Notable past performers include Lotta Crabtree, Mötley Crüe, Jack London, Emma Nevada, Mark Twain, and The Second City comedy troupe.

Present day main users include:

  • LeGacy Productions
  • Nevada Theatre Film Series
  • Sierra Stages
  • Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra
  • Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival

Commissions

The Nevada County Liberal Arts Commission was formed in the 1960s to purchase the building from United Artists. The Nevada Theatre Commission, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, followed the first commission and, with a Board of Directors, is the governing body of the Nevada Theatre. It owns, operates, restores, and utilizes the theater "To preserve and develop the historic Nevada Theatre and its other historic properties in order to provide the community with an accessible, usable and valuable cultural asset" (Mission Statement).

Landmark

The theater is registered as California Historical Landmark No. 863, and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on March 14, 1973. The landmark plaque reads:

CALIFORNIA'S OLDEST EXISTING THEATRE BUILDING, THE NEVADA OPENED SEPTEMBER 9, 1865. CELEBRITIES SUCH AS MARK TWAIN, JACK LONDON, AND EMMA NEVADA HAVE APPEARED ON ITS STAGE. CLOSED IN 1957, THE THEATRE WAS LATER PURCHASED THROUGH PUBLIC DONATIONS AND REOPENED MAY 7, 1968 TO AGAIN SERVE THE CULTURAL NEEDS OF THE COMMUNITY.
CALIFORNIA REGISTERED HISTORICAL LANDMARK NO. 863

PLAQUE PLACED BY THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION IN COOPERATION WITH THE HISTORICAL LANDMARKS AND LIBERAL ARTS COMMISSIONS OF NEVADA COUNTY, APRIL 27, 1974.
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