Just as Knorpp’s Opera House was built to entertain the people of Pleasant Hill during the waning years of the 19th century with theater, a defining art form of the era, the Peoples Theater was built to entertain in the early 20th century with that era’s defining art form - film. The theater was originally built in 1909, when silent films were still the norm. Its simple brickwork and two story construction reflects its status as a more quaint entertainment house rather than the more elegantly designed opera house just down the street. By the late 1940s, however, the theater was in desperate need of remodeling. In response, the proprietors chose to evolve the theater along with the times.
In the aftermath of World War II, Pleasant Hill was on the receiving end of the large economic boom experienced by the United States. As a result, the town as a whole entered a period of major expansion and renovation for older buildings, the theater included. For the remodel, the theater was transformed into a beacon of Art Deco style on the streets of Pleasant Hill, with all the finery to stand out on the streetscape. Most obviously, a large vertical neon sign emblazoned with the ‘PEOPLES’ title was installed, along with a hanging canopy that stretches over the entrance, advertising the latest films. This newly redesigned Peoples Theater continued to entertain the people of Pleasant Hill for the next twenty five years, until the times changed again.
As large chain multiplexes began to take hold in the 1960s single screen theaters like the Peoples began to close, and in 1972, the theater shuttered its doors. A decade later, however, the building was transformed from a movie theater into an intimate concert hall and comedy club. Rechristened as Big Creek Country, the building has remained a successful live venue for the town into the 21st century, retaining the same spirit of public entertainment that the Peoples helped foster. As part of Big Creek’s dedication to that spirit, they gathered funds to restore the original neon sign and canopy in 2012, adding on their own addition to the front as well. While the Peoples no longer serves its original purpose, it still stands as a center of entertainment for all of Pleasant Hill.