After two years of construction, El Rio Theatre opened in 1915 as the Apache Theatre. Constructed entirely of adobe and wood, this singular 288-seated theatre captures the essence of Springerville and the surrounding area. In addition to the film entertainment the theatre has provided, it has also doubly functioned as a towns center, children’s recreational area, and preserver of Arizona’s regional history. The theatre has superseded several eras of film. This was recently recognized in their Centennial campaign and celebration.
During the genesis in popularity of films, Springerville, Arizona began construction of their own theatre in 1913. When finished, the Apache Theatre would open in 1915, being the only one within a 50-mile radius of the area. This theatre was set up entirely in adobe and wood. It holds a singular showing room of 288 seats, whose covers have been preserved from the 1930’s. In addition to this, El Rio Theatre continues to use its original popcorn machine, installed in the 1950’s. The hope for the theatre was that it would provide a haven and source of entertainment for the surrounding community.
Not only did the theatre edify their community through entertainment purposes, the Apache Theatre also served as a makeshift town center and recreational area for children. Being one of the few community buildings in the area, meetings on the governance and current events of the region were held in its auditorium. Similarly, children spent most of their Saturdays in Apache. Parents would drop off their children with several dimes, and the theatre would play reruns of Tarzan, The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, and double-features with Superman cartoons and Movietone News shorts.