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Luna Theatre


1994 Photo from the Kevin Dennis collection
4 Main St
Clayton NM 88415
(505) 374-2712

National Register 2007
Record #10  
 Opened: 1916
Capacity: 397 seats
Architect(s):
Architectural Style(s): Mission Revival
National Register: 2007
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As: Mission

Information for this tour was contributed by Tom Drake.

In winter months, Roy Leighton fires up the old boiler hours before opening the Luna Theater in Clayton so its clanging doesn’t drown out the movie’s sound for his audience.

He owns the Luna with his wife Nancy, and holds the titles projectionist, ticket man and janitor. He has been known to open the theater on demand, but shows regular features on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Passersby still stop to photograph the Luna’s distinctive lunar-themed neon sign.

"We could show a movie cost-efficiently for 10 people," he said of his 375-seat theater. "That’s half a row of seats."

His barrel-roofed, two-story theater with its Mission Revival façade and parapet is considered the best example of a former nickelodeon in the state. It boasted a wood-floor ballroom in the basement until a 1990 flood caused by nearby roadwork severely damaged it.

Originally opened as the Mission Theater in 1916 by the Morris Herztein family after their mercantile store on the same spot burned to the ground, the Luna became a town gathering place and even showed features for free to farm kids. It was purchased in 1935 by Gibralter Enterprises, a group of theater owners in the Rocky Mountain states.

The company updated the theater with new seats and Art Deco fixtures. Opening-night crowds were so large many had to be turned away from Clayton’s premiere of Shirley Temple’s "The Little Colonel." The Gibralter group sponsored a contest during the opening where local girls received a month of free passes for winning a writing contest.

Consulting architectural historian David Kammer said the Luna provides an "excellent example" of how theater operators responded to changing tastes and expectations in theater appearances and amenities.

 Photos
 Photos remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.

October 2009 photos from the Adam Martin collection.


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December 1994 photos from the Kevin Dennis collection.


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1994 photos from the Kevin Dennis collection.


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Last featured 7/2/2005. Last edited 11/1/2009.

 
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