Newspaper announcement – September, 1926

The Bonham Theatre is located 1/2 block north of the historic downtown square in Fairbury on E Street. Built in 1926 by Universal Pictures and a small group of local investors, it was constructed in a time frame from April, 1926 to opening day on September 27, 1926 where the crowds numbered for the three performances that day to over 3,000 people. The name Bonham is derived from the then cashier of the First National Bank, Luther Bonham, who coordinated the group of local investors to help Universal Pictures build the theater. In its early days it was known as “the showplace of southeast Nebraska.”

Bonham Theatre – 1973

In the summer of 2012 after 86 years of operation, the Bonham closed. Shortly thereafter, a group of citizens called a meeting and began to organize. A Facebook group was formed and quickly grew to over 1,500 members. After a series of meetings, the non-profit organization Bonham Theatre Project was formed. The building was purchased and fund raising was begun to rehabilitate and reopen the theatre, preserving this cultural and entertainment venue for generations to come. Five years later, the Bonham Theatre reopened in downtown Fairbury on September 27, 2017, the 91st anniversary of its original opening.

Interior Bonham Theatre
Interior Bonham Theatre – circa 1930s

Looking south on E Street. Bonham Theatre – circa 1940