May 22, 2001

Narrative Statement of Significance

The Nu Art Theatre is being nominated at the local level under Criterion A for its significant role in the recreation, entertainment, and culture of the community of Moscow and the University of Idaho during the Great Depression and World War II years. It is eligible under the criteria established for this property type in the Motion Picture Theater Buildings in Idaho, 1897-1949 Multiple Property Documentation Form. The Nu Art, built by Milburn Kenworthy in 1935, was one of several theaters that Kenworthy developed in Moscow. Along with the Kenworthy Theater, two lots north, the Nu Art served Moscow residents and University of Idaho students during the years of motion picture entertainment's greatest popularity.

Unlike the architectural traditions of legitimate theater, trends in the design and decoration of motion picture theaters changed rapidly. During the 1910s and 1920s, silent movies were unrealistic adventures and romances, often set in exotic locales. Movie theaters featured equally exotic motifs and styles featuring historic references, mirroring the role of the movies in spiriting people away from their everyday lives. During the late 1920s and the 1930s, talking pictures replaced silent films and modern designs replaced historic references in new theaters. 1The Nu Art Theatre reflects this transition from elaborate theaters with historic references to modern design in the city of Moscow. “