Orpheum Theatre - Blairmore, AB
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member ScroogieII
N 49° 36.461 W 114° 26.147
11U E 685251 N 5498170
Quick Description: Built in 1921, The Orpheum continues in use as the last operating theatre in the Crowsnest.
Location: Alberta, Canada
Date Posted: 7/29/2020 10:35:15 AM
Waymark Code: WM12X1P
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member bluesnote
Views: 0

Long Description:
The Orpheum was built for Italian immigrant and entrepreneur Peter Umbertino by another Italian immigrant, contractor Enrico Pozzi. Although the building's interior has changed over the years, its exterior retains much of its original character. The exterior design is a rough match to surrounding buildings, providing continuity along the streetscape.

With its large seating capacity, The Orpheum was used not only to screen movies, but for political rallies, meetings and a wide array of entertainment, including singers, musicians, magicians and even boxing matches. Built in the silent movie era, an orchestra pit was included in the design to provide musical accompaniment to the "Silents".

With the advent of "talkies", the theatre's equipment was updated in the '30s to enable their screening. Still later, in this century, it was again upgraded, enabling the screening of digital media.
Orpheum Theatre
The Orpheum Theatre is a two-storey building with a flat roof, located on 20th Avenue (formerly Victoria Street) in the community of Blairmore along what was also formerly Highway 3 through the Crowsnest Pass. The front of the building is faced in brick with four windows, currently covered with paintings, on the second floor, each with plain lintels and plain lug sills of sandstone. Above the windows, the plain parapet has a single line of corbelling with entablature of brick below the corbel and above the window lintels. The façade boasts a marquis, decorative arch, and a projecting perpendicular sign with “ORPHEUM THEATRE” in stacked bands of neon. Both buildings that flank the Orpheum exhibit design similar characteristics providing the street scape with a row massing of non-related (but similar) styles.

The Heritage value of the Orpheum Theatre lies in its association with at least three Significance Criteria:
  1) Theme/Activity/Cultural Practice/Event
  2) Institution/Person and
  3) Information Potential.

Built in 1921, and still in use as a cinema, the Orpheum is the sole operating theatre with the Municipality the Orpheum meets the first and second Significance Criteria. It has been and is valued by the community as an important social hub, civic gathering place, and entertainment venue. Over a span of more than ninety years, it has seen many activities including but not limited to various gala affairs, political meetings, visits from Santa, Remembrance Day parades and meetings, recitals, sporting events and innumerable films. In 1933, the theatre played host to miner meetings when they were not allowed to openly congregate out of doors during the strikes that occurred during this period. The theatre opened during the era of silent movies with orchestration, transitioned to films with sound tracks and has moved into the 21st century with the advent of more modern technologies. As such it has been an integral part of the cultural fabric of Blairmore since its formation and more recently with the amalgamation of the surrounding communities to form the Municipality.  Of particular interest to the history of the Orpheum is its association with Enrico Pozzi. Mr. Pozzi was an early contractor who built the theatre. In addition, many of remaining mine management buildings in the area were also built by him. Of interest to the theatre was his use of materials from the failed Frank Zinc Smelter in its construction, an early example of reuse.

Finally, the history of the Orpheum allows us to more fully understand the historic and cultural events that characterize the previous 90 years of the Crowsnest Pass. While they do not stand alone, they form a part of the fabric of the area that allows us to understand the history of the area including the immigrants who came to the area, often as miners, and who successfully transitioned themselves to different occupations and lifestyles.

• Location, relationship to the street, size, form, and mass of the building;
• Massing of the theatre with adjacent buildings as portion of the street scape;
• Materials such as brick (which may include some reused bricks and other materials from the Frank Zinc Smelter);
• Sandstone that defines the façade and its relationship to the street;
• Fenestration pattern and window openings;
• four windows openings on the second floor, each with plain lintels and plain lug sills of sandstone;
• Upper portion of the front façade that is original as part of the street scape;
• the plain parapet with a single line of corbelling with entablature of brick below the corbel and above the window lintels;
• marquis, decorative arch, and a projecting perpendicular sign with “ORPHEUM THEATRE” in stacked bands of neon.
From the Alberta Register of Historic Places
Photo goes Here
Official Heritage Registry: [Web Link]

13125 20th Avenue
Blairmore, AB
T0K 0E0

Heritage Registry Page Number: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
To log a visit to a Waymark in this category at least one photo of the property, taken by the visitor, must be included with the visit, as well any comments they have concerning either their visit or the site itself. Suggested inclusions are: what you like about the site, its history, any deviations from the description in the heritage listing noted by the visitor, and the overall state of repair of the site.
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