Boise’s Egyptian Theatre opened in 1927 and is said to be the best remaining example of the Egyptian revival style, popular after king Tutankhemon’s tomb was discovered in the 1920’s. The 850-seat theatre is colorfully painted with Egyptian hieroglyphics and figures. The original Robert-Morton pipe organ that supplied music for silent films still stands near the screen. The theatre was slated for demolition as part of the 1970’s urban renewal, a time in which many cities lost an intricate part of their historic downtown core. However, businessman Earl Hardy stepped in and purchased the Egyptian and shortly after the first phase of theatre restoration began.
The revival of the Egyptian Theatre has made a large impact on the city of Boise. Not only does the theatre cater to movie-goers it also has a stage to accommodate live performances and various presentations, and can serve as a meeting hall. Part of the Egyptian’s storefront was destroyed in the 40’s and original copper and glass were hidden from view. Greg Kaslo and the Hardy Foundation took on the task of re-vamping the storefront and brought back a piece of Boise’s history.
The Egyptian’s Pipe Organ is the only theatre pipe organ installed in its original theatre in the state of Idaho. The organ was built to accompany silent films with many of the special sound effects needed to enhance a scene in the picture. Bird chirps, sirens, horns, boat whistles, bells, chimes, snare drum, and kettledrums.
The auditorium proscenium is the main feature of the auditorium decorated with gilded detail and flanked by 4 lotus columns. A large winged scarab holding the sun disk is center. Above is a depiction of King Aeti I fighting the Hittites and various scenes depicted in the Book of the Dead. Two large golden Pharaohs modeled after the Memnon statue of Thebes are seated on either side of the stage.