The Theatre Historical Society of America is pleased to announce Jeff Thompson of Los Angeles, California as the recipient of the 2014 Thomas R. DuBuque Research Fellowship. He will visit the Willis and Shirley Johnson and Classic Cinemas Research and Education Center at the Theatre Historical Society of America (THS) later this year to pursue his project of documenting the theatres of the Salt Lake City, Utah region.
As Thompson explains, “Up through the 1970s, downtown Salt Lake City was a theatre mecca. Within a three-square block area there once stood at least fifteen different theatres dating from the nineteenth to the middle of the twentieth century. Theatres included the elegant Salt Lake Theatre, built by Brigham Young, which was once a major stop on the legitimate theatre circuit, to extravagant movie palaces that hosted Hollywood premieres in the 1930s and 1940s, to simple nickelodeons that thrived on showing westerns. Today, only three theatres still stand: the Capitol which was turned into a performing arts venue; the Rialto which survives as a small live theater; and the Utah which has sat shuttered for a quarter of a century despite several attempts at restoration.”
As a Utah native, he is deeply interested in accurately documenting the once-thriving theatre district of Salt Lake City with a focus on the role that those theatres played in the development of the city and state as a whole.
“The theaters of Salt Lake City have never been properly documented beyond the occasional article in historical or local-interest publications. This project seeks to document the locations, the architecture, and the events that took place in these theatres in the Salt Lake City and greater Salt Lake City area,” further describes Thompson.
Thompson currently works as an archivist in the Twentieth Century Fox Photo Archive, a position he has held since 2005. Thompson attended Brigham Young University and UCLA where he obtained a master’s in library science with an emphasis in archives and film preservation. In Los Angeles, he is an active volunteer for the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation and regularly assists as a docent for theatre tours.
“We’re excited to partner with Jeff on his research,” says Richard Fosbrink, Executive Director of THS. “Part of the mission of THS is to document the history of America’s theatres, and projects that look at little-documented geographic regions are always of interest to us. We look forward to adding his finished research to our collection for others to use.”
When Thompson visits Elmhurst later this year, he will stay at the Springhill Suites by Marriott, who have generously underwritten this award since 2012.
Are you conducting your own research and would like support to visit our collections in person?
Consider applying for the 2015 Thomas R. DuBuque Research Fellowship. Application guidelines are currently being reviewed and the application period will open soon. Make sure you’re signed up for our enewsletter for the most up-to-date information.