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Saturday, February 20th, 2016

Fountain Theater – History

In April, 1912, Albert J. Fountain, Jr. applied for a business license to open a moving picture business in Mesilla. He gave the name of the theater as “The Fountain of Pleasure.” Prior to the theater showing moving pictures, the theater was used for dramatic plays and visiting vaudeville acts. This continued even after theater began showing movies.

Fountain had purchased the site for the theater for $125 on August 23, 1905, from trustees of the Home Mission Board of the Presbyterian Church, which had operated a church there since 1880. This is the same site used by the theater today, making the Fountain Theater the oldest operating moving picture theater in New Mexico.

Fountain operated the theater until 1916, when he went out of business. He resumed the theater business in 1919. In 1927, Fountain sold the site and theater. The new owner operated the theater until 1931, when he went out of business. In 1938, Fountain re-purchased the site and theater. In 1951, he closed the theater.

Fountain Theater - Mesilla, New Mexico

As an independent theater operator, Fountain always had great difficulty obtaining new movies on a timely basis. For most of the time between 1938 and 1951, Fountain showed Spanish language movies.

In 1963, the Las Cruces Community Theater (LCCT) obtained permission from the Fountain family to use the building for dramatic plays. This continued until 1977, when the LCCT moved to its current location, the State Theater in Las Cruces.

Following the exit of LCCT, the Fountain Theater resumed showing movies, becoming an “Art House.” The Fountain Theater was the only venue in the Las Cruces area where movies such as MIDNIGHT COWBOY, THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE, and LAST TANGO IN PARIS were shown.

The present occupant, the Mesilla Valley Film Society, began showing films at the Fountain Theater in 1989.

Fountain Theater - Inside Mural

The walls of the Fountain Theater are decorated with murals of historic Mesilla scenes painted by Albert J. Fountain, Jr.

Source: Screen With A Voice — A History of Moving Pictures in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

See Also:
New Book on Las Cruces History
Mesilla Museum Display

 

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

New Book on Las Cruces History

Screen With A Voice – A History of Moving Pictures in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Screen With A Voice - A History of Moving Pictures in Las Cruces
The first projected moving pictures were shown in Las Cruces 110 years ago. Who exhibited those movies? What movies were shown? Since projected moving pictures were invented in 1896, why did it take ten years for the first movie exhibition to reach Las Cruces? Who opened the first theater in town? Where was it located? These questions began the history of moving pictures in Las Cruces, and they are answered in this book. But so are the events and stories that follow.

First movie shown in Las Cruces
First theater in Las Cruces
First talkie shown in Las Cruces
Invention of drive-in theater in Las Cruces
Opening of Rio Grande Theater
Impact of Great Depression on business
Raffle of six-week-old baby girl at Mission Theater
World premiere of first BILLY THE KID movie
Second world premiere of a BILLY THE KID movie
Arrival of Organ, Rocket, Fiesta, and Aggie Drive-Ins
Shooting of Clint Eastwood’s HANG ‘EM HIGH

There have been 21 movie theaters in Las Cruces – all but three or four are forgotten. They are unremembered no longer. And one, especially, the Airdome Theater which opened in 1914, deserves to be known by all movie historians – it was an automobile drive-in theater, the invention of the concept, two decades before movie history declares the drive-in was invented.

To supplement this history are 102 photos and illustrations. These include ephemeral documents such as the 4-page flyer for Las Cruces’ third movie exhibition, at the Rink Theater; historic photos of theaters; aerial photos of drive-ins; and never-before-published photos of the shooting of HANG ‘EM HIGH.

Cover: Depicts the 1930 world premiere of BILLY THE KID, starring John Mack Brown as Billy, at the Rio Grande Theater in Las Cruces.

See Also:
Fountain Theater – History
Mesilla Museum Display

 

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Mesilla Museum Display

The opened this evening with a dedication ceremony featuring the Mayor of Mesilla and many Mesilla citizens. A welcome part of the opening ceremony was a display of some of the materials being collected for the Mesilla Museum, which will emphasize the history of Mesilla, including it’s role in the saga.

Billy the Kid was tried in the courthouse on the Mesilla plaza in April, 1881 for two killings. He was acquitted of the killing of Andrew A. “Buckshot” Roberts, which occurred on April 4, 1878. He was convicted of the killing of Sheriff William Brady, which happened a few days before, on April 1, 1878.

The sentence for the killing of Sheriff Brady was death by hanging, to be carried out May 13, 1881. That didn’t happen, of course, because Billy the Kid escaped from the Lincoln jail 15 days before he was to be hung. The hanging was to be carried out in because that’s where the killing of Sheriff Brady had occurred.

The most intriguing item on display this evening was the barber chair where Billy the Kid was given a haircut before his trial. The chair is privately owned and was being displayed only for the ceremony.


The chair was manufactured in the early 1870s. It was re-covered in the 1980s, before the current owner acquired it. The reupholstering covered up several bullet holes that were in the chair, of unknown origin.

The permanent display in the center includes numerous historical Mesilla photos.

Here’s a photo of the original San Albino church, which was torn down when the current church was constructed in 1908:

Here’s a photo of the consecration of the new San Albino church in 1908:

Here’s a picture of the Mesilla plaza in 1900. The first San Albino can be seen in the distance.

Here’s a picture of the Fountain Theatre taken about 1930:

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See also:
Billy the Kid’s Grave
Did Billy the Kid Stay at La Posta in Mesilla?
Billy the Kid Display – Mesilla
Saving the Pat Garrett Marker
Billy’s DNA
Old Mesilla Courthouse
Billy the Kid
Fountain Theater – History

 

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

Rain Today

We’ve had about 20 hours of slow rain. It’s welcome and very pleasant, but comes at a bad time for local farmers.

San Albino this morning:

The Fountain Theater:

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