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The Bailey Theatre


Other Names:
The David Theatre

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Bailey Theatre (a.k.a. the David Theatre) is a wood and brick frame building with stucco exterior in Camrose. Built in 1910-11 the theatre is one of the oldest existing purpose-built theatres in Alberta. It is located on two lots on the city’s main downtown street. It is distinguished by an Art Deco marquee tower and a projecting canopy.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Bailey Theatre lies in its association with Camille David (DAH-vid), the local rancher and entrepreneur who established the theatre, and in its architectural value as a representation of an early twentieth-century performing arts venue.

In the late 1880’s Camille David drove a herd of cattle from Manitoba to his ranch just southeast of Camrose. He was a partner in the first Camrose hotel, and owned a cigar and liquor store. He financed the construction of the David Theatre for use by local and visiting performers. Over the years it was used for musical performances, theatre productions, silent movies, vaudeville shows, dances, Sunday school, boxing and wrestling matches and Remembrance Day ceremonies. David sold the building to Stan Bailey in 1913, and it was re-named the Bailey Theatre in 1921. The significant remaining vestiges of the David Theatre are the pressed metal panelled auditorium walls and ceiling, the stage, the wood trusses supporting the ceiling and roof and the writings on the walls in the dressing rooms under the stage. The writings on the wall are especially interesting. In the early part of the last century, vaudeville performers travelled the country by train stopping to perform in communities along the rail line. Performers such as the Georgia Minstrels, The Winnipeg Kiddies and New York-based San Carlo Opera Company signed the walls in the dressing rooms and left messages for other performers.

In the 1930s, the Bailey Theatre's facade was extensively altered from the Edwardian Style to the Art Deco Style reflective of cinema architecture of the period. The changes included the addition of the exterior marquee tower, stucco, speed lines and black carrera glass, as well as the addition of a 120-seat curved balcony with stepped rows in the interior.

Source: As the Wheel Turns: A History of Rosalind, Kelsey and Districts (1982); A Light into the Past: A History of Camrose (1980); The Camrose Canadian (September 3, 1910 and February 9, 1911)

Character-Defining Elements
The heritage value of The Bailey Theatre resides in the following character-defining elements:

- location on the city’s main street near the former CPR train station.

- mass, form and scale of the building;
- marquee tower, its projection from the building face, the decorative horizontal banding and upper angled termination of the tower, and the supporting canopy projection anchored back to the roof structure;
- wooden main entrance doors with curved glass inserts;
- wooden hopper windows above entrance doors;
- smooth textured stucco with speed lines on the facade;
- low and elongated form of the building and its frontage;
- two-storey structure with a raised parapet and the massing and hierarchy of roof forms;
- radial design of the pressed tin ceiling in the auditorium;
- original rhythm to the arrangement of doors and windows in the front facade;
- recessed raked Terrazzo main entrance to the theatre and the stepped recessed entry immediately south of the main entrance;
- large Terrazzo letter "B" on the raked entrance to the theatre;
- original metal attic vents on the upper exterior parapet of the facade.

- pressed metal panels on walls and ceiling in auditorium;
- curved stairways to balcony, including the curved handrails and supporting hardware;
- raked balcony with curved front;
- metal reinforced wooden trusses above stage and auditorium;
- decorative rose and vine pressed tin medallion at the centre of the radial pressed tin ceiling;
- art deco wall sconce light fixtures in auditorium;
- autographs and messages on walls in dressing rooms under the stage written by vaudeville performers;
- mural painting on wall above door between lobby and auditorium;
- sloped lobby floor that rakes up from the main entrance to the auditorium entrance;
- auditorium mass, form and scale;
- sequence of spaces, such as the sequence from the entry to the lobby to the auditorium and to the stairway that leads to the upper balcony of the theatre.


Street Address: 5041 - 50 Street
Community: Camrose
Boundaries: Lots 28 and 29, Block 3, Plan RN28
Contributing Resources: Building: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.022995 -112.824071 Secondary source NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Local Governments (AB)
Designation Status: Municipal Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2000/01/24

Historical Information

Built: 1910 to 1911
Period of Significance: N/A
Theme(s): Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Learning and the Arts
Historic Function(s): Leisure : Auditorium, Cinema or Nightclub
Current Function(s):
Context: Two hand painted canvas backdrops, and lobby cards found in The Bailey Theatre are in storage at the offices of the Camrose Main Street Project, 4949 50 Street Camrose AB.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4664-0189
Designation File:
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File:
Website Link:
Data Source: Camrose Main Street / City Center Camrose 4949-50 Street, Camrose AB T4V 1P9
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