The Egyptian Theater is an architectural treasure and a local landmark. Early Boise had various bars which brought numerous rowdy behavior. A man named Leo Falk decided to reverse this bad publicity, mainly to profit his department store in downtown Boise, by building a picture theater. Hummel was a famous architect of Boise and hired to help design the theater. He pushed for a Spanish style theater, but Falk insisted on an Egyptian theme. Falk won, but there are still signs of Spanish interference such as the red Spanish style tiles on the roof.
On April 19, 1927 the fantastic Egyptian Theater opened to the public with pomp and ceremony. With over 1600 seats the crowd was huge and the theater not quite ready yet. After a long wait, the Egyptian was open to the public and instantly became a favorite in the minds of its guests. The Fox Theater Chain took over operation of the Egyptian a couple of years after theater opened and operated theater until the early 1940’s. At this time the Egyptian was renamed the FOX.
In the early 1940’s the Paramount Theater chain purchased Fox. This accounted for the second name change. Since a rival theater chain did not want their competition on the marquee, a contest was held for a new three letter name for the theater. The winner was ADA (which happened to be the name of the governors wife).In the 60’s, a delirious interior decorator wanted to “white wash” all the paintings and clean up and modernize the look of the theater. Luckily, the theater manager threatened her with touching the proscenium arch (he said he actually used a shot gun to protect the arch). But there was pressure to tear down and redesign.According to Ron Thurber, the owner actually had plans to auction off the theater’s organ in advance of selling the property.
Thurber and five of his high school friends (including Charles Hummel) formed a committee to buy the organ and attempt to save the theater. After buying the organ, the committee decided that they would go out in style and show one last movie: the 1927 Academy Award winning “Wings” about a WWI ace. Thurber recalls that he joked with a friend that they should hang an airplane outside the theater to promote the film. The friend promptly made arrangements with ACHD to hang a vintage Sopwith Camel from a crane above the intersection outside the theater.
Due to the large publicity that followed, the theater was packed for the showing and a movement grew to save the Egyptian. Than, a very important man came into the theater’s history. His name was Earl Hardy. The preservation committee convinced him that he needed a theater and talked him into buying the Egyptian from the Urban Renewal Committee. Since Earl fell in love with the theater, after the buy and being a preservationist himself, the future of the Egyptian was finally solid and fear of destruction gone. Because Earl Hardy was struck ill in the early 1990?s, Anita Kay and her equally fighting husband, Gregory Kaslo, decided to fulfill Earl Hardy’s dream. They restored the Egyptian to what we know of it today.