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'A jewel of Denver:' The history behind a movie theatre almost 100 years old

The story behind the Landmark Mayan Theatre on Broadway
'A jewel of Denver:' The history behind a movie theatre almost 100 years old
Posted at 8:10 AM, Mar 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-13 10:10:42-04

DENVER — Standing tall on South Broadway is the Landmark Mayan Theatre, a piece of Denver history that has truly stood the test of time.

“The Mayan is my favorite place in Denver, and it will always be and I plan to work here as long as they'll let me," said Adam Kaiser, who has worked at the movie theater for around five years now. “There are not very many old movie palaces like this left in the country.”

Kaiser explained the history behind the iconic building, which first opened as a movie theatre under a different name in 1930.

“It operated as a movie theatre until 1984. It shut down after that, but a group of individuals in the community called themselves The Friends of Mayan. And they, I guess, banded together to not only get the theatre a historical designation, but also reopen it to play films," said Kaiser, who told Denver7 the theater reopened just two years later.

The architecture inside of the Mayan Theatre is what instantly catches a customer's eye, but the years and years of people who have come together to enjoy movies in the space is what makes it a Denver staple.

“Film is one of the things across the last 100 years that really has a power to bring people together," said Kaiser. “It allows you to put your phone away, sit in a dark room with a bunch of strangers, and fully immerse yourself with what's on the screen.”

In an age of streaming and following the COVID-19 pandemic, Kaiser said that communal experience of enjoying a movie together is what's kept the Mayan Theatre alive.

"The future of film will look different than what we have known it to be in the past. But I don't think coming to a movie theater will ever be something that dies," Kaiser said. "There are people that love it and value it and see the importance of coming together for film and viewing it in this setting. Of course that'll change over time. But I think as long as any of us are here, there will still be a place for people to come see movies.”

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