Pioche’s Gem Theater listed in National Register of Historic Places

Pioche’s Art Deco Gem Theater listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Gem Theater - Courtesy Courtney Mooney, North Wind Resource Consulting, LLC.

PIOCHE, Nev. – Nestled against a hillside in downtown Pioche is a jewel of a theater – a Gem, to be exact. Constructed in 1937, this Art Deco marvel played an important role in the community's social fabric, hosting a plethora of local, state, and national news and entertainment events. During the tumultuous era of World War II, the Gem Theater served as a vital source of information, with newsreels keeping patrons abreast of the war's developments. Now the building has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Melissa Clary, founder of Friends of Gem Theater, says, “several generations of Pioche residents have shared memories of meeting their future spouse at the Gem Theater for dates, dropping off children to watch weekend matinees, and relishing in the buttery movie theater popcorn.”

The theater boasts a modest Art Deco design, featuring a striking neon marquee with faceted gem detailing. Recent efforts by Friends of Gem Theater have seen the meticulous restoration of this iconic marquee. Inside, the theater retains much of its historic charm, with original film equipment, box office furnishings, Art Deco lighting fixtures, and even a "sob room" for soothing crying babies without disturbing fellow moviegoers. Adjacent to the Gem Theater stands another historic landmark, Brown's Hall/Thompson's Opera House built in 1873 and listed in the National Register in 1984, a testament to Pioche's rich cultural heritage.

In recognition of its cultural significance, the Gem Theater has been added to the prestigious National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service. This designation not only honors the theater's illustrious past but also opens avenues for grant funding and tax incentives aimed at its preservation and safeguarding for future generations.

Rebecca Palmer, Administrator of the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office, notes, “The mining town of Pioche has many wonderful historic resources, including four that were previously listed in the National Register. We are thrilled to help list the Gem as well. It is a special building with a rich history and a high level of historic integrity.” 

Under the stewardship of Friends of Gem Theater, the theater is currently undergoing restoration with plans to revive it as a vibrant community hub. The restoration efforts will encompass modern upgrades for accessibility and technology, while preserving the theater's historic architectural integrity.

Melissa Clary envisions the Gem Theater's restored neon marquee once again illuminating Main Street, serving as a beacon of community spirit and a catalyst for economic growth in Lincoln County. “The Friends of Gem Theater is honored to rehabilitate the movie theater and bring it back for all to enjoy, as we celebrate its listing in the National Register.”

For more information about this listing or the National Register program, please contact the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office at (775) 684-3448 or shpo-info@shpo.nv.gov.




The National Register of Historic Places was established in 1966 under the National Historic Preservation Act to recognize historic resources important to national, state, and local history.  For a resource to be eligible it should generally be 50 years of age, possess historical significance, and retain strong physical evidence of that story.