What’s Going On with the Old Lon Brown Theater Building?

Featured Image: Note in the upper right-hand corner that the stage house tower has been replaced by a wall with a window — still under construction!

The former theater building on First Street in Snohomish, January 2012, showing the red stage house tower backing up to the river.

The historic Lon Brown Theater building, at 1003 First Street, opened on October 9, 1924, with live theater acts and two sold-out screenings of the silent movie, Hold Your Breath, at 7 and 9 pm. Fans spilled out into First Street, blocking traffic … eventually dispersing over the years, it finally closed in 1999.

The theater building, fully equipped with a fly loft for raising and lowering scenery, plus dressing rooms for 60 persons, opened with the new millennium as the Pegasus Theatre Shops. A tourist trap kind of place that erased any trace of its previous life holding live theater. The business moved to Las Vegas a couple of years ago leaving behind a run-down building littered with unsold stuff too large to move.

New owners arrived with the new year, 2020, moving the abandoned stuff to the sidewalk to give away, then discovering a dangerously water damaged stage house tower. It was quietly taken down by a small crew that is now building out an 800 square foot perch featuring oversized windows high above the Snohomish River Valley.

Captured from the River Front Trail on Thursday morning, May 7th with unidentified figures standing on the new roof alongside all that remains of the stage tower wall still attached to the chimmey.

Snohomish StoriesShort alley view off Avenue A showing the backstage double doors for loading scenery.

Looking east from the Kla Ha Ya Park showing the small crew working on the stage tower in the horizon.

Captured Friday morning, May 8th, showing the oversized windows already in place.

Close up view of what remains of the stage tower wall still attached to the chimmey.

On Friday, May 8th, Sharon Petitt, the city’s Building Inspector, visited the site to met with the contractor when she heard his story of the urgency and reasons for tearing down the stage house tower. Ms. Petitt issued a correction report that a permit is required and Design Review. The owner’s permit was for interior work only.

Owners planning external alterations to their structures located in the Historic District are required to submit their plans to the Design Review Board (DRB), a citizen board charged with maintaining design standards for the district. A copy of the standards is available from city hall or online. The public is invited to all DRB meetings and is encouraged in this case.

Pieces of the stage house walls of red painted sheet metal in the dumpster.

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Undated photo of the Lon Brown Theater found on the internet.

It’s my understanding that early in its history, the stage welcomed community presentations — I’d love to learn more — please comment below with your experience, or contact me. We will feature your stories in our October post: “Remembering the Lon Brown Theater.” Included as well will be an online screening of the theater’s first movie: Hold Your Breath.

This October, the Lon Brown Theater building will be four years short of its 100th Anniversary.

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