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Phoenix’s historic Orpheum Theatre celebrates 90th birthday

(Phoenix Convention Center Photo)

PHOENIX – The historic Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix is celebrating its 90th birthday Saturday.

When the downtown venue opened as the Orpheum on Jan. 5, 1929, Phoenix had a population of 48,000.

After going through multiple owners and names over the years – including a stretch as a Spanish language movie theater – the property at Adams Street and Second Avenue was purchased by the city of Phoenix in the 1980s.

The theater was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the city invested $14 million in a 12-year restoration project to give it new life.

The Orpheum had 1,800 seats when it was first built, but seating was reduced to 1,400 with the renovation.

Free tours as part of the birthday celebration are fully booked, but the Friends of the Orpheum Theatre nonprofit support group hosts monthly public tours.

In October, Architectural Digest cited the Orpheum as Arizona’s most beautifully designed theater.

Today, the Orpheum is considered a Phoenix Convention Center venue and regularly hosts concerts and a variety of live plays and shows as well as silent movies with live music from the theater’s Wurlitzer pipe organ.

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