Ruby Theatre

212 Main St., Three Forks, Montana


Ruby Theater Three Forks MT

Photo taken by David Jones in September 2019



Street View 


"The town of Three Forks, born to serve as a division point for the Chicago, St. Paul, and Milwaukee Railway, took root in 1908. As the town grew to a sizable settlement of 2,300, the Empire Theatre opened to serve local audiences. Manager David R. “Slim” Byrd attracted traveling troupes on their way to other destinations. In August 1912, Byrd held a grand re-opening of his newly remodeled “amusement house.” He renamed it the Ruby Theatre after Ruby Langdon, a local teenager who not only knew how to recruit talent but was also a well-loved local singer. A few weeks later, David Byrd married nineteen-year-old Ruby and soon sold the theater. New owner E. C. Waddell brought the first silent movies to Three Forks including “The Idler” (1914), “Anna Karenina” (1915), and “The Girl I Left Behind Me” (1915). Theater[M1] -goers also enjoyed live road shows, traveling magicians, and high school plays. The present building of concrete faced with red brick replaced the old frame theater in 1916. Butte architect Wellington Smith designed the building—a grand undertaking for a small community. The new Ruby Theatre had an auditorium seating 400 and two commercial storefronts while the second floor housed professional offices. As “talkies” replaced silent movies, the Ruby continued to offer community entertainment linking Three Forks to the world through newsreels, epic movies, and famous actors. The Ruby provided entertainment until the 1970s. The historic theater retains most of its original design elements including its pressed metal cornice, original nameplate, decorative brickwork, and arched second-story windows." - NRHP/Montana Historical Society plaque

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on April 30, 1982
Reference number
Areas of significance
Exploration/Settlement; Performing Arts
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event
Property type
Historic functions
Professional; Theater; Specialty store
Period of significance
Significant year

Update Log 

  • September 5, 2019: New photos from David Jones
  • July 14, 2019: Updated by Richard Doody: Added historical information
  • December 28, 2011: New Street View added by Bill Eichelberger