Anchorage 4th Avenue Theatre
What are your memories of the 4th Avenue movie theatre? How much do you know about this amazing Anchorage icon?
This is the way you probably best remember the 4th Avenue Theatre… with Woolworth’s on the corner.
Austin E. “Cap” Lathrop
The Anchorage pioneer who built the 4th Avenue theatre was a visionary named Austin Eugene “Cap” Lathrop.
He got the nickname “Cap” when he became a licensed boat captain, which was before his days of building movie theatres in Alaska.
Notice the Spelling?
Cap Lathrop owned a chain of movie theatres in Alaska and used the spelling “theatre” and not the customary spelling “theater”.
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Anchorage’s Movie Palace
While the Empress Theatre, located farther east on 4th Avenue, was the first movie theatre in Anchorage, the 4th Avenue theatre was a palace.
The dream began with construction starting in 1941.
But the world had other ideas and World War II delayed completion of the theatre until 1947.
The Theatre is an Art Deco, Streamline Moderne and Art Moderne style building.
The main house was decorated with silver and gold murals by Anthony Heinsbergen and Frank Bouman of Los Angeles. The two also created the Big Dipper on the auditorium ceiling.
The murals were created on canvas with reliefs in masonite leafed with gold and silver.
Above is a second floor mural of Mount McKinley.
You could stand there for a long time, just admiring that beautiful art work.
4th Avenue Theatre Trivia
Did you know that Cap Lathrop did not think it was dignified enough or appropriate to have a concession stand in the 4th Avenue Theatre? Years later, we are all happy that one was added.
What a beautiful and classy auditorium
The First Movie
The Anchorage 4th Avenue Theatre opened on May 31, 1947 with “The Jolson Story”, a big Technicolor blockbuster hit.
Following the premier, each night, lines would form on the sidewalk outside with people waiting to enjoy an evening at the movies in the beautiful 4th Avenue Threatre.
The Lathrop Building
Besides the 4th Avenue Theatre, the Lathrop building was also home to Lathrop’s KENI radio station and later to KENI-TV channel 2. There was also a restaurant and in 1959 - 1960, a penthouse apartment was added.
Imagine walking inside the 4th Avenue Theatre once again for an evening at the movies.
The 4th Avenue was the perfect place to see a movie.
Check out this wonderful memory of the 4th Avenue Theatre right now.
Now take a moment to enjoy this fun memory.
Check out 4th Avenue Theatre; Hold the Butter right now.
What Are Your Memories of the 4th Avenue Theatre?
Did you enjoy the way the theatre was decorated?
Did you go with family or friends?
What movies did you see?
Oh, the Precious Memories
Remember getting popcorn and candy at Woolworth’s before heading over to the 4th Avenue Theatre to catch a movie?
Our North Stars (that’s you) commented on our Anchorage Winter Memories edition.
“I used that sky jump many times between 1950 and 1952 while I was in AHS (Anchorage High School). Not as a team member but just for fun with my skiing buddies. We had a great time and back then I used to love winter. ”
“I learned to snow plow (on skis at City Bowl) in the early 50s”
“That ski jumper was probably Gary King. He was the Champion there at City bowl. Learned to ski on that hill. Also we used to fly down the hill on big cardboard boxes.”
Mary Lawson sent us this 1974 newspaper clipping of an 8 foot snowman on Elmendorf AFB
Can You Believe It?
Yes, it’s that time of the year when we look back at memories gone by.
Mary and Mike wish you and yours a very Happy New Year in 2022.
So, did you enjoy remembering those great days when you could enjoy going to see a movie at Anchorage’s 4th Avenue Theatre?
Tell us about your 4th Avenue Theatre memories. It’s easy. Just reply to this email,
OR you can Contact Us right now.
Either way, we will be so happy to hear from you.
Until Next Time
Mike and Mary