Inside Boise’s Enchanting Egyptian Theatre

While Idaho is known for its potatoes, it has so much more to offer, including one of the best examples of Egyptian revival style architecture, Boise’s Egyptian Theatre, which has been entertaining audiences for almost 100 years.

Overall view of the Egyptian taken from the corner, showcasing its Egyptian temple like structure, windows feature stripe awnings, on one side the roof has sphinxes. On the corner is a large lighted marquee.

Close-up of a pair of sphinx statues.

Close-up of part of the marquee which reads "Egyptian" diagonally.

Partial exterior of the Egyptian. An Egyptian temple light structure with a large lighted marquee outside.

View of the lobby with a gold sign reading "Women" and pointing to the left.

Portion of the lobby, which features arched openings leading toward the men's restroom on the right and toward the theatre on the left. A red and white stripe couch sits on the left.

A product of the Egyptian craze that swept the world after the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922, the Egyptian opened its doors on April 19, 1927 with the John Barrymore film Don Juan. The arrival of the new cinema took up the entire front page and two following pages of the April 18, 1927 issue of the Boise Capital News. On the outside the cinema evokes an Egyptian temple and inside bas relief details, massive columns, murals and more truly transport the visitor. When it opened it sat 1400 movie goers, with 175 seats on the upper floor being “overstuffed leather arm chairs.”

Sadly by the 1940s Egypt-mania was outdated and the entire theatre was white washed in an attempt to hide the now passé Egyptian details. But by the 1970s the value of what had become Boise’s last theatre from the silent era was seen. In 1974 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and a few years later, in 1977 it was purchased by Earl Hardy, who breathed new life into it. Decades later, Hardy’s daughter, Kay, along with her architect husband, began an extensive two month restoration in an effort to fully return to Egyptian to its former glory, reopening in November of 1999. With the shut down brought on by COVID-19 in 2020, the Egyptian saw an opportunity to freshen up its restoration with new carpet, paint, and more.

Myself walkings through the lobby wearing a white peasant top with floral embroidery and blue jeans.

Close-up of the lights in the entry that are surrounded by bas reliefs of pharaohs.

Close-up of the lighted sign reading "Men"

A niche with a lotus mural, above a winged sun with snakes on either side.

Close-up of a lighted sign reading "telephone" for the niche for pay phones.

Mural of a large bird.

Close-up of a mural featuring the god Anubis weighing a heart and a feather.

Close-up detail of a winged son with snakes.

Close-up of the gold sign reading "Women" and a red arrow pointing to the left.

Mural of a scarab.

Myself, leaning against a lotus pillar, wearing a white peasant top with floral embroidery and blue jeans.

Close-up of a detailed light fixture with a floral pattern.

Overall view of the screen with its intricate column proscenium.

Detail of the light fixture in the center which features a lotus design.

Mural of the hawk god Ra painted on the side of the theatre.

Detail of the proscenium.

Overall view of the theatre with its various murals of Egyptian gods.

View of part of the screen's proscenium that features two large columns with stripe and hieroglyphics.

Close-up of the middle of the proscenium with a large scarab in the center.

Close-up of a gold pharaoh like statue that is seated near the screen.

Detail of the intricate pattern of the proscenium.

Mural of a mummy on the side of the theatre.

Mural of Egyptian figures and hieroglyphs on a column.

A balcony niche with a stripe awning and archway of hieroglyphics

Overall view of the right side of the proscenium.

An exit sign is framed by a painting of a bird.

The theatre is nothing short of stunning and perhaps the crown jewel of Boise. If you find yourself in Boise, I highly recommend taking in a movie or live performance at the Egyptian located at 700 W. Main Street in Boise, Idaho. For upcoming events and ticketing, please visit their website.

“Boise’s Egyptian Last Word In Theatres” Boise Capital News, 17 April 1927. Print.
Parris, Joe. “On this day 1977: Boise’s Egyptian Theatre added to National Register of Historic Places.” KTVB7, 21 November 2022.
Woodward, Tom. “Egyptian back in all its glory.” The Idaho Statesman, 10 December 1999. Print.

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