Liberty Theater Partner Website

Liberty for All

Local visionaries work to preserve legacy of historic theater

by Lori Currie

“Most communities, including tiny Idaho towns, have a theater that has been there since the beginning, connecting memories from generation to generation.”

–Logan Frederickson, Windermere Real Estate

Just 16 miles south of the Sun Valley ski resort lies Hailey, Idaho, known for its authentic small-town charm and well-preserved historic buildings lining Main Street. The crown jewel of the historic district is The Liberty Theater, one of the oldest continuously operated theaters in the state. Erected in the early 1900s, the Liberty has stood the test of time and recently was spared from demolition by Logan Frederickson, owner of Windermere Real Estate in Ketchum and Hailey.

“Most communities, including tiny Idaho towns, have a theater that has been there since the beginning, connecting memories from generation to generation.” says Frederickson. “This is why we felt it’s important to preserve The Liberty.”

Historically, the original Liberty Theater was a plain, unadorned building with a vertical neon sign and deco-influenced door hardware, its simple style reflective of construction during the Great Depression when décor was kept minimal. The present-day Liberty Theater was built in 1938, across the street from the original structure, with the intention of holding community events and screening “talking” movies such as Gone with the Wind when it was first released.


“We are proud to serve a vital community development role on Main Street, with productions that drive the cultural life of the south Valley.”

–Naomi McDougall Jones, Executive/Artistic Director, The Liberty Theatre Company

Walking into The Liberty today is a journey back to those halcyon days of the silver screen. Plush red velvet-draped walls and seats create a cozy, inviting atmosphere. A large vintage Art Deco chandelier sparkles overhead. The downstairs dressing rooms still bear written inscriptions on the walls from past performers, including actor Bruce Willis who, along with then-wife Demi Moore, owned The Liberty from 1994 to 2017. They are credited with updating the Art Deco ambiance, most notably on the exterior where fluted pilasters and backlit tiered panels and corners all adhere to the principles of modern Art Deco design. The duo persuaded Virginia-based Company of Fools to move to Hailey in 1996 and hold performances until the theater shuttered due to COVID-19 in late 2022, and Company of Fools disbanded. A new group, The Liberty Theatre Company (a separate entity from The Liberty Theater) formed and organized a campaign called “Relight the Liberty” to raise $1.7 million to restore the building and establish an endowment for future repairs. The measure ultimately failed.

Enter Frederickson, who last year bought the theater with a group of like-minded locals who share his mission to revitalize it. These include general manager, Pete Vallimarescu, who “has taken the reigns of The Liberty; we feel lucky to have him,” says Frederickson. Local musician Luc McCann is “a great musician himself, he has a lot of great input when it comes to sound and live performances,” says Frederickson. Patrick McKain, manager at the Ketchum restaurant Enoteca, “is a key asset in the food and beverage department,” which includes the recent acquisition of a beer and wine license, and Ryan Rosmarin, a true jack of all trades, who has been instrumental in helping the project move forward. “I brought in people who have different skillsets and who happen to be all good friends of mine,” says Frederickson. “It’s kind of nice to have guys who can focus on the various logistical aspects of running a successful event space.”


The first order of business for the team was hiring a licensed structural engineer to inspect and sign off on the building, putting to rest any previous questions about the building’s integrity. “It’s an old beast of a building. It was well built and has been well maintained,” says Frederickson. Another major undertaking was the installation of a new HVAC system, new interior lighting, and a new state-of-the-art sound system that rivals the best event venues in the Wood River Valley. “The biggest improvement was the sound system, since we want to show movies and theatrical performances but live music as well,” says Frederickson.

Local theater groups including The Liberty Theatre Company and Laughing Stock Theater Company (established in 1977) are thrilled to once again be back on stage at The Liberty. In the past four years when it was closed, The Liberty Theatre Company was forced to move productions to The Mint, a neighboring venue that had recently been used as a restaurant and bar. Although it is also a historic space, it is less-than-ideal logistically for theater productions. “It is deeply meaningful to both The Liberty Theatre Company and the entire Hailey community to have The Liberty Theater open once again,” says Naomi McDougall Jones, executive/artistic director of The Liberty Theatre Company. “We are proud to serve a vital community development role on Main Street, with productions that drive the cultural life of the south Valley.” Throughout the next year, The Liberty Theatre Company will delight audiences with five shows at The Liberty, including Little Shop of Horrors, Alice in Wonderland, and A Doll’s House.


Beyond live theater productions, the team hopes to bring the community feel back to the theater and re-activate the space for “any and all” types of events. “It’s not just theater,” says Frederickson. “We’re excited to help people broaden their horizons by offering a diverse lineup with something for everyone.” One of the first groups to inquire about holding an event was local crisis organization, The Advocates; they hosted a slam poetry event in April. Other recent events include Reel Rock 18, a rock-climbing series of short clips from climbing greats and Boot Juice, an energetic bluegrass/rock band from California. The Liberty also held a special screening of Star Wars: A New Hope! on May 4, in honor of May the Fourth Be with You. “One of the biggest things we hear is that people love movies, so it will be fun to bring those back,” says Frederickson, emphasizing that it won’t necessarily be blockbusters but maybe beloved classics like Caddyshack and possibly sporting events like boxing matches.

Whether attending a live performance, a film screening, or a spoken word event, The Liberty Theater remains a historic gem that blends vintage charm with modern amenities, creating an unforgettable experience for all. With the neon marquee of The Liberty once again illuminating the night sky, Frederickson and friends look forward to re-establishing it as the cultural community hub in downtown Hailey.

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