History of the Ford Theatre
Based on Conversations
Seeking help to flesh out details and provide corrections
The Wray Theatre was opened in 1935 adjacent to the Wray Chevrolet. It continued until at least 1957.
The Chevrolet dealership was sold and eventually became a Ford Dealership owned by David Horsely. He acquired the theater in the 1970's with the plan to turn it into a showroom. The story goes that while he was developing his plans his teenage children began running movies in the theater again. They found success and the building was reborn as the Ford Theatre. The Ford Theatre ran until about 2012. A new updated cinema opened up in town with multiple screens. At that time, the industry was moving to a digital format. The change proved cost prohibited and the theater shutdown.
James and Daphne Arbizu secured a lease option in 2019 from Todd Lugli, the owner at the time, and formed this non-profit, the SRAS, to bring it back to life and utilize it as an arts venue. When COVID-19 hit, all spring plans were canceled and put on hold until December of 2020. On April 28th the SRAS closed on the Ford Theatre. Now they have over 15 quality organizers across three governing and advisory boards. We intend to continue to involve all who want to b a part of this revitalization.
Submitted by Alda Vee Hull
(including the pictures above and below)
"My father was the projectionist in both the old ford theater and the Wray theater for many many years. I have written about this in his history. When he first started the movies were silent. A pianist played appropriate music to add to the experience. I remember when I was about 5 yeas old walking with mother to the theater. This photo can be found in the archives of the Star Valley Historical Society.
There were two projectors. When the film ran out on one, a symbol came on the screen. Then the other one was switched on while a new roll of film was placed in the other. We often watched the movie from the window shown in the photo and would watch for the signal and tell dad. Both my brothers, Donald and Ballard learned how to run the machines and change the film. If a film broke, the screen went black and dad had to remove the film roll, take it to a bench where he spliced it back together then threaded it back into the projector. In the meantime, the audience was clapping and calling our for the movie to continue."
- Alda Vee Hull, 3/1/2020