Demi Moore & Bruce Willis Donate the Liberty Theatre to Sun Valley Center for the Arts
Company of Fools and the Sun Valley Center for the Arts are thrilled to announce that they have received a donation of the historic Liberty Theatre on Main Street in Hailey, Idaho, from Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, who have owned the property since 1995.
For the past two decades, Company of Fools (COF) has enjoyed a “gentleperson’s agreement” with Moore and Willis regarding the use of the Liberty Theatre. In the mid-1990s, Moore and Willis—longtime friends of COF founding members Denise Simone and John Glenn—encouraged the young theatre company to consider relocating from Richmond, Virginia, to the Wood River Valley with the promise of access to a historic theatre in the heart of the community—the Liberty Theatre.
In November 1996, Simone and COF founder Rusty Wilson acted on that suggestion, leaving Richmond to embark on a new chapter for the Company. Other COF members soon followed, and the Company has based its operations at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey ever since.
“Bruce and Demi originally envisioned the Liberty as a place for the community to gather and be inspired by stories of the heart,” says John Glenn, Artistic Director of Company of Fools. “I am so proud of the work we have accomplished so far, and Bruce and Demi’s belief in our work is demonstrated in this unbelievable gift. Their generosity brings their original vision full circle as we continue to tell stories that touch the heart, inspire and entertain.”
Moore and Willis’ generous donation formalizes the Liberty Theatre as COF’s theatrical home and provides a permanent anchor for The Center’s programming in Hailey. With this gift, the building becomes an important real estate asset for the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, and The Center will assume full responsibility for its future upkeep and maintenance.
Going forward, COF will continue to be the primary user of the Liberty Theatre. The theatre will also continue to serve as a perfect south-valley venue for The Center’s wide array of music, film and humanities programs. When not in use by COF or The Center, the Liberty will be available for rent by other groups.
“This is an important gift for our community,” says Christine Davis-Jeffers, Executive Director of Sun Valley Center for the Arts. “Not only does it allow us to extend and enhance our programming capacity but it also cements The Center’s commitment to the City of Hailey and the entire south valley community. There are a myriad of exciting possibilities ownership of the Liberty Theatre offers and we are grateful to the donors for their commitment to the arts.”
The original Liberty Theatre was built in the early 1900s, located directly across Main Street from its present location. The owner of the building, Sam Brooks, brought silent films to Hailey in 1917, and one could often find him giving out free candy to the eager children attending the films.
The present-day Liberty Theatre was built in 1938 on the site of an outdoor ice-skating rink. Jack Rutter, a local contractor known for his exceptional craftsmanship, envisioned a modern building to hold community events and screen “talking movies.” Cinder bricks from Burley, Idaho, were used to form the walls of the building, and glazed tiles enhanced the façade. Scaffolding built in the form of a spiral allowed workers to transport the finished materials up to the ceiling in a wheelbarrow.
The Liberty was sold in 1973 and then again in 1994 to Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, who worked to restore the historic theatre—along with several other buildings in downtown Hailey—to its original glory. Company of Fools took up residence at the theatre in November 1996 and has operated from there ever since.