The Panida theater opened as a vaudeville and movie house in 1927. Then, as now, its name reflected its mission: to showcase great performers and performances for audiences of the PANhandle of IDAho.
Opening night patrons marveled at both the distinctive architecture and lush interior furnishings of the Panida, and the press praised its Spanish Mission styling for beauty which cannot be approached by any other building In the city, and which can be equaled by few theaters in the west.” Decades of glory faded into years of neglect before, major fundraising and restoration efforts by the Sandpoint community saved the Panida In 1985. Today, with projects to preserve and improve the theater ongoing, the Panida is on the National Register of Historic Places and has received special recognition from the governor of Idaho, the Idaho Commission of the Arts, the Idaho Centennial Commission and the U.S. Department of the Interior. Honored with both “Take Pride in Idaho” and “America” awards, the Panida has also received the coveted “Orchid Award” for historic preservation from the Idaho Historic Preservation Council. The Panida is the cornerstone of cultural activities for the entire Sandpoint community, and its successful restoration has inspired similar projects throughout the region. Whether hosting local performers, recording stars such as Bonnie Raitt, Arlo Guthrie, Wynton Marsalis and Mitch Miller, or internationally renowned artists like Gunther Schuller, the Spokane Symphony, San Francisco Opera, the Cavini String Quartet or the Paris Chamber Ensemble . . . the Panida theater continues to bring the best in entertainment to the people of North Idaho. What lured audiences to the Panida for vaudeville shows and the “talkies” still brings crowds in today: the promise of performance. For nearly three-quarters of a century, the Panida has made good on that promise. Its easy to see – and hear – why the Panida is so treasured by Sandpoint. There’s truly not a bad seat in this house that can hold 500. And its acoustic perfection makes the Panida a delight for performers and audience-goers alike. From intimate recital to Broadway-size musical, it’s an ideal venue. That’s why so many touring troupes go out of their way to book the Panida, bringing entertainment to Sandpoint that would otherwise be available no closer than Spokane. As the area’s only performing arts facility, the Panida enjoys an exceptionally high audience rate for its audience base: in a community of just 5000, house size averages nearly 230 at each of over 144 performances scheduled annually.