After fire ravaged the Arlington Hotel on Ogden’s main boulevard in 1923, Harman W. and Louis H. Peery, sons of deceased pioneer businessman David H. Peery, set about to replace the rubble with a movie palace that would become “The Showplace of the West.”
The “Talkies” (movies with sound) came to the big screen in the late 1920s ushering in a new era for movie palaces, and the Golden Years at Peery’s Egyptian Theater lasted until the beginning of the 1960s.
Still a major first-run venue, the Egyptian was not exactly showing Academy Award Winning material. The businesses around the theater had also greatly changed and the downtown was beginning to suffer from a gradual decline in business as people left the city to shop at the malls. This was happening all across the US.
Circumstances changed dramatically in the early 1980s. Operated by a small, local chain by then, and reduced to a second-run dollar movie venue, the Egyptian was ordered closed by county authorities late in 1984 for health code violations. The Egyptian closed in late December of 1984, surrounded by empty buildings. What was once Ogden’s main retail block was not mostly vacated as retail activity moved to the Newgate Mall.
The Egyptian Theatre Foundation was born from the group of concerned citizens who saved the Egyptian theater from the wrecking ball, by gathering community support for the restoration of the grand old theatre. The restoration was completed in 1997 and it included Weber County’s addition of the Ogden Eccles Conference Center, adjoining the theatre to encourage business growth in the downtown area.