AKA: Fox Liberty Theatre, Downtown, Great Falls, MT

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings; built works - commercial buildings - stores; built works - dwellings - houses - apartment houses; built works - performing arts structures - theatres; built works - recreation areas and structures

Designers: Ryan, Henderson, Architect (firm); Shanley. George, Architect (firm); Henderson Ryan (architect/building contractor); George Shanley (architect)

Dates: constructed 1920-1921

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Seattle architect Henderson Ryan has been credited for the design of the Great Falls Liberty Theatre and the surrounding mixed-use building. (The Liberty Building provided space for retail stores, apartments, offices and a bowling alley.) Ryan seems to have collaborated with local architect George Shanley on the design. The Liberty, part of the theatre chain owned by Seattle exhibitors Jensen and von Herberg, opened in 08/1921, showing the film, "Nomads of the North." (1920), starring Lon Chaney and Lewis Stone.

This 1,700-seat theatre bore a resemblance to the later Mercy Theatre in Yakima, WA, by B. Marcus Priteca (1889-1971). Both Renaissance Revival Style buildings used multi-story arched forms to create a steady visual rhythm on the front facade. Priteca often used blind arches on his theatres, trimming them with finely-detailed, classical, terra cotta ornamentation. The Wurlitzer organ in the Liberty had a publicized value of $47,000.

The Great Falls Liberty Theatre was remodeled to contain offices and storefronts in 1978.

PCAD id: 18321