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

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