National Register of Historic Places


Rialto Theater

Casper

Date Added to Register

Thursday, February 11, 1993

Smithsonian Number

48NA2189

Read all about it

The Rialto Theater is a prominent commercial brick structure located in downtown Casper. The building, originally constructed as the New Lyric Theater in 1921, illustrates the amount of capital that could be invested in a recreational structure in a thriving Wyoming city. The design of the Rialto is typical of a 1920s commercial-style motion picture theater located in a small but prosperous city. In 1921 an entrepreneur by the name of Henry Brennan constructed the movie house based on his successful vaudeville theater located in the west-center of town. Brennan's new theater, named the New Lyric, was unsuccessful reputedly because the new location failed to attract Brennan's old clientele, patrons of the local saloons. The theater was sold to new owners and remodeled in 1922. When the Rialto Theater opened its doors in 1922 to show silent movies, it had lots of competition from the six other theaters that also served the City of Casper. The Rialto soon became the premier movie house in Casper with an elaborate exterior and first-run movies accompanied by a women's orchestra. The Rialto is significant because of the important role the theater played in the city's recreation and entertainment industry. Its association with the growth and development of Casper, through the city's boom and bust history, illustrates the role recreation and culture played in Casper.

Department of State Parks & Cultural Resources