Whenever my daily rounds took me past the Guild Theatre at 1028 Old South Gaylord, I wondered about the history hidden behind the big double doors that seemed forever locked. Like the old fire-horse regulated to pulling hay wagons filled with children, the theatre seemed a sentinel of past glories, waiting impatiently for a return to the days of yesteryear when local residents rode the cable car or trolley to Old South Gaylord for a day of shopping and a movie at the old Washington Park Theatre (the Guild's original name).
The Old Washington Park theatre opened August 12, 1925 showing both silent films and the later "talkies" until around 1955 when the development of larger movie houses and Denver's changing geography forced the theatre's closing. Since then, the theatre has been devoted to live stage productions. In 1968, Charles Ault, director of the Denver Player's Guild, acquired the property and the name changed to the Guild Theatre.
The Player's Guild is an "amateur" drake group that has been presenting monthly plays since 1934, when the group was started by Charles Ault Sr., father of the current director. The group is composed of varied occupations and expertise. Adult stars in and directs most of the shows, as well as "patching the roof" and sweeping the floors with the aid of his wife and children.
As the home of the Guild, the theatre has been used to hold the group's 3 night per month performances, and their rehearsals, and the infrequent rental to private companies. Motivated by a need to increased revenues, and a desire to return family entertainment to Washington Park, Ault is planning to bring motion pictures back to the Guild theatre beginning August 1.
Current plans call for creation of a film society called "Silver Screen Classics Productions" that would be open to film goers for an annual membership of $5 per household. The society will run 16mm classic films from the '30's, '40's and '50's on Friday Saturday and Sunday nights and weekend matinees for children featuring such films as Lassie. The admission charge will be $1.50 to members and "fresh popcorn" will be available at "half the price of the major theatre," Ault say. The films will be shown three weekends per month, allowing the Players Guild productions to continue as in the past.
Ault is in the process of restoring the building's exterior to its original 1925 appearance. an outside ticket booth is being built, and panels adorn the overhang in front of the theatre, awaiting the addition of decorative rosettes to complete the front. Adult purchased two chandeliers from the defunct Denver Theatre to dress up the theatre's lobby.
While Washington Park is rich in many things, entertainment is definitely lacking in the neighborhood. The reopening of the Guild for public entertainment is another welcome addition to the area. Persons interested in either the Players Guild or the coming film society can call Mr. Ault at 442-4090 or 722-1793.