One location that was pointed out as part of a recent walking tour in Sapperton was that of the Sapperton Theatre.
For about 20 years, from the late 1930s to the late 1950s, this theatre was an important part of this neighbourhood area on East Columbia Street.
The theatre, with seating for 500, was located at the corner of East Columbia at Major Street. It is now the site of a private liquor store and prior to that, a bank. The theatre opened its doors on April 22, 1938, and there was great excitement in Sapperton at having such a venue close to home rather than having to go elsewhere in New Westminster to see a movie.
The theatre cost $35,000 to build and equip, and that high cost alone drew considerable attention from more than just the movie-going public. An article on the building paints a colourful image of what was noted as "the latest and best in the moderate sized suburban movie house."
The front doors that welcomed patrons were of black masonite with chrome fittings. The lobby was light tan in colour with gold drapes, green doors, modern lighting, and even a stucco fireplace, and the whole area was carpeted in a green and red combination.
The seats, an integral feature of any such venue, were a spring-type, of red leather with padded plush backs. The sloped floor gave each seat a good view of the screen, and the theatre aisles were all carpeted. The building had an up-to-date air conditioning system and, for those times when warmth was needed, a coal furnace had been installed.
The front entrance of the building was finished in cream stucco, while the box office was done in a black and chrome combination.
The front sign and canopy were lighted by floodlights, and the area in front was set off in red concrete pavement. The projection system was of the latest design, and the loud speakers offered a "wide range, high and low frequency sound unit for perfect reproduction."
Many people with long connections to Sapperton remember this theatre and its prominent position on the street. A small promotional newspaper from December 1947 gives a great idea of the films that were shown with release dates for all in 1946 and throughout 1947 - this was an early run venue that served the community well.
For the Christmas holiday season of 1947, the films changed every couple of days and included Great Expectations (John Mills), North West Outpost (Nelson Eddy), The Macomber Affair (Joan Bennett and Gregory Peck), The Fabulous Dorseys (Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey and their Orchestra), Copacabana (Groucho Marx and Carmen Miranda), with Christmas Day offering Abbott and Costello in Buck Privates Come Home and New Year's Day had Yvonne DeCarlo in Slave Girl.