Yam Theatre

History of the Yam

In the 1920’s America experienced a building boom of “movie palaces.” The “Portola Theater” opened in August 1926 and was billed as one of the most up-to-date motion picture theaters in the State of New Mexico, offering comfortable seating and modern organ music with a large stage.

In 1929, the “Portola Theater” became the “Palace Theater.” With the on-set of the Great Depression in 1929, there was a severe decline in theater attendance across the nation and unfortunately the “Palace Theater” became a statistic and closed its doors.

In 1932, the “Palace Theater” was purchased, reopened and renamed “The Portola.” Later that year the theater was renovated and given a new name “The Yam,” taking its name from the major agricultural crop produced in Roosevelt County at the time, sweet potatoes. It remained a working theater and retained the name “The Yam” until circa 1963-1965 when it once again closed it doors.

In 2002, through a private donation from Addie Peed Swearingen, the theater was purchased by the Portales MainStreet Program. Thanks to additional donations, fundraising and many state and federal grants, the City of Portales and the Portales MainStreet Program have been able to completely renovate the theatre.

Today the facility includes a meeting room, lobby, ticket booth, dressing room, bathrooms, concession area, projection booth and large multi-use theater space.

The Portola Theater (circa 1926-1929)

The Portola Theater

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