Mesa theater could become the city's newest historic landmark

A building in Mesa might become a historic landmark, should the City Council in the East Valley city approve it.

"You can feel the history in the building. A really good energy about it," said Donovan Melero, who has performed in the theater.

The Nile Theatre was established in 1924, which means the building will mark its centenary a year from now. The Egyptian-themed name for the building came from the time period, as the Pyramids were being excavated, and King Tutankhamen's sarcophagus had been found, sparking an interest in things that are Egyptian.

"It was important to recognize its cultural impact to Downtown Mesa," said Michelle Donovan. "With all the new development going on, we want a layer of protection on the building, so it doesn’t become a Dutch Brothers in a couple of years or something like that."

The building has gone through a lot of changes in a century. It began as a play house, and then became a movie theater. It was even a dress shop for some time. The build sat vacant for a while after a music venue closed, before Donovan reopened it in 2009.

Nowadays, plenty of bands perform at the venue every week, and Donovan has even more plans for the place.

"You can just tell when you’re in a space like that," siad Melero. "You can tell many bands have caused the walls to drip in sweat."

"The bricks are original, locally kilned," said Donovan. "They literally cry if there’s too much bass. There’s dust on the ground."

Once Donovan started running it, she wanted to apply for it to become a historic landmark. Donovan said it's about protecting the place. It may not always be a concert venue, but it will always be there as a reminder of how Mesa's Main Street began.

"I felt it was important, so we don’t lose sight of what that place has been," said Donovan.

Mesa's Historic Preservation Board already unanimously said it checks every box to become a landmark, and on Aug. 21, members of the city council voted to introduce an ordinance on the issue. A final vote is expected on Aug. 28.

Meanwhile, Donovan has plans to put a recreation of the original marque on the building. Donovan reportedly also wants to obtain a national historic status for the theater.

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Nile Theater, as it looks today.