Old school Denverites will remember the Cooper Cinerama Theater — a piece of Mile High movie history that opened in 1961 and used to sit prominently at 960 S. Colorado Boulevard in Glendale (where the Barnes & Noble is now). Its curved screen enveloped viewers with the sights and sounds of specialty films until it was demolished in 1994.
For small town Denver of the ‘60s, the Cooper Cinerama was a big deal. As Shannon Stanbro of Historic Modern Denver explains:
“Cinerama was a special, full immersion, surround-sound movie experience. Seeing a Cinerama film at The Cooper was equivalent to visiting a major tourist attraction like Disneyland. Tickets were for reserved seating only, purchased in advance, and likely purchased by tourists prior to visiting Denver. The three-projector roadshow films shown in Denver’s Cooper Theater made full use of everything the Cinerama experience could offer.”
(Want more on Denver’s cinema scene? Listen to last week’s podcast episode about the impending closure of The Esquire and what remains of Denver’s best theaters 🎧)
From the eye-catching signage out front to the spacious lobby positioned specifically to draw the attention of cars passing by, every detail of the Cooper was intentionally designed by renowned architect Richard Crowther. (Crowther moved to Denver in the 1940s, working for Lakeside owner Ben Krasner to design and update many of the park’s ticket booths that still exist today.)
Beyond innovative commercial work, Crowther was ahead of his time in home design, incorporating passive solar and other sustainability techniques that took advantage of Colorado’s sunlight. (In fact, one of the architect’s famous energy efficient homes is up for sale right now in Cherry Creek for a whopping $2.2 million!)