America is dotted with many historic cities, but few can compare to Butte Montana. Copper might have vanished, but the Richest Hill on Earth has plenty to offer. One of the vital attractions is the Mother Lode Theater.
Built in the 1920s, the Mother Lode Theater has been Butte’s center for performing arts for over 90 years. It has seen many events yet remains the go-to place for epic entertainment. This kid-friendly theater is home to the Montana Repertory Theater, Butte Symphony, Orphan Girl Children’s Theater, Butte Community Concert, and the Mother Lode Series.
The Mother Lode theater carries and displays Butte’s rich heritage. It’s an ideal venue for anything performing arts, from concerts to kid shows to live music. It has a beautiful setting, excellent acoustics, and a wonderful place for the whole family.
Mother Lode’s seating capacity is 1200. The main floor accommodates 303, the Mezzanine 361, the Loge 182, and the balcony 347. Accommodation is available in nearby facilities such as the Copper King Mansion, Butte Plaza Inn, and Comfort Inn. Multiple parking spots are available in the Parking Garage, three blocks east of the Mother Lode.
The Mother Lode Theater History
Mother Lode’s roots can be traced back to 1923 when Masonic Bodies built it. The theater was initially built as a 1,200-seat ornate Temple Theatre and served as a venue where Masons conducted their ceremonial activities.
Temple Theater Is Born
It might sound bizarre, but this theater owes its existence to the Knights of Columbus Hall Butte. When the Catholic community built the Knights of Columbus Hall, Masons felt they were lagging behind. Driven by the zeal to match Catholics, Masonic bodies commissioned a six-story Masonic Temple and an adjoining Temple Theater.
The architectural company Link and Haire was tasked with building the theater. By 1924, the Beaux-Arts style structure stood tall.
Temple Theater served as a ceremonial venue until the Great Depression kicked in. The Masons needed a viable income stream and saw it fit to lease their buildings. They turned Temple Theater into a movie house that any operator could rent.
Temple Theater Becomes Fox Theater – Late ’20s to 1953
The Fox Film Corporation (20th Century Fox) was on an expansion mission in the ’20s. They leased the Temple Theater in 1929 and renamed it the Fox Theater.
The theater operated as Fox until 1953, when it reopened as Bow.
Bow Theater – 1953 to 1961
According to the Montana Standard, Fox reopened as Bow Theater in 1953. The new management completely remodeled the theater and transformed how events were held.
However, Bow Theater didn’t last long. Their reign was over in 1961.
Fox Theater – 1962 to The’80s
The theater once again reopened as Fox on December 21, 1962.
20th Century Fox ran this theater until the ’80s, when it encountered major challenges. Increased taxation and the declining theater numbers meant that running a theater was no longer profitable. Fox had neglected repairs, and the theater’s downfall was imminent.
Butte Center for the Performing Arts Leases the Theater – Late ’80s
In the late 1980s, Fox departed, and the Masons decided to donate the theater to the Butte-Silver Bow City-County. However, the theater was still in bad shape and needed restoration.
Luckily, a group of Butte residents came to the rescue. The group formed a non-profit named The Butte Center for the Performing Arts. The aim of this non-profit was to lease the theater from the city and restore it.
Mother Lode Rises – 1996
The Butte Center for the Performing Arts raised about $3 million for restoration. Major repairs were done on every building section, from the roof to the plumbing system. The building was fully restored in 1996.
The beautifully renovated performance hall was named Mother Lode as a tribute to Butte’s mining heritage.
In 1997, a lower-level children’s theater was added. This theater was named Orphan Girl Theater and had a 102-seating capacity.
Mother Lode Theater Today
Today, the Mother Lode theater is a classy, well-maintained theater. It’s home to the Orphan Girl Children’s Theatre, Butte Community Concert, Montana Repertory Theatre, Butte Symphony, and Mother Lode Series. It also houses other national, state, and local events.
Mother Lode Theater Details
- Address: 316 West Park Street Butte, MT 59701
- Capacity: 1200 seated
- Contact Number: 406-723-3602
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: buttearts.org
- Season: 90th
- Open Hours: Monday-Friday. Curtain time depends on events
Shows and Events
Most events and shows held in the Mother Lode are kid-friendly. Whether you’re a comic aficionado, an illusionist lover, or a live music fan, you can look forward to fun moments.
Current Events (2022)
- The Choir of Man – February 20, 7:30 PM
- Movies & Their Music (Butte Symphony Series Event) – February 26
Upcoming Events (2022)
- The All Hands On Deck Show – March 6, 2:00 PM
- The British Invasion – March 20, 7:30 PM
- Kassia Ensemble (Community Concert Series Event) – March 21, 7:30 PM
- Veritas (Community Concert Series Event) – April 7, 7:30 PM
- Vive La France! (Butte Symphony Series Event) – April 23
- Sons of the Pioneers (Community Concert Series Event)- May 7, 7:30 PM
World-class performers have graced Mother Lode Theater in the past. Notable events include:
- Something Rotten – April 14, 2019
- Finding Neverland – November 27, 2018
- Jersey Boys – October 31, 2017