A Tale of 2 Theatres - Salem, Oregon
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member ddtfamily
N 44° 56.379 W 123° 02.222
10T E 497078 N 4976246
Marker describing two historic theaters in downtown Salem
Waymark Code: WMFV3C
Location: Oregon, United States
Date Posted: 12/02/2012
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 1


From 1908 to 1933, an inter-urban electric train that connected Salem with Portland terminated here at the intersection of State and High Street. The trip from Portland took an hour and a half, cost 25¢, and ran 33 times a day at the height of service. Awaiting your arrival was the cultural and civic hub of Salem, with the County Courthouse, City Hall, State Capitol, the important Salem First Methodist Church and Willamette University all within easy walking distance. In addition to all the nearby shops, services and businesses, six theatres were also in this vicinity. Two of these historic theatres still operate today as vibrant community venues and architectural gems.

Located just south of where you stand is the Historic Elsinore Theatre, which opened in 1926. Early on, the theater was converted to accommodate the latest advance in entertainment technology, talking movies, and was primarily used as a first-run movie house until the 1970s. In collaboration with local community organizations, the Elsinore brought live entertainment back to its stage in the 1980s.
In 2004, a comprehensive historic restoration took place, bringing the Gothic Revival theatre's exterior, interior lobby with stained glass and painted murals, and 1,300 seat auditorium back to its original condition, including a replacement for the "Mighty Wurlitzer" organ. Today, the Historic Elsinore Theatre hosts a full schedule of live music, dance, theatre, community events...and movie classics!

The Elsinore was designed by the architectural firm of Lawrence and Holford. Their lead architect, Ellis F. Lawrence, also designed the six-story Masonic Temple (1912) seen across the street with its ornate brick and terra cotta exterior, and Mahonia Hall (1924), the official governor's residence on Fairmount Hill, just south of downtown. Lawrence is recognized as the founding dean of the School of Architecture at University of Oregon.

Opening in 1900, The Grand was originally known as The Grand Opera House. Built by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a fraternal organization, it was their first lodge chartered in the Northwest and also the first building in Oregon's capital city built with electric lighting. When vaudeville and minstrel shows became popular, it was renamed The Grand Theatre. Soon after silent movies arrived, and in the 1920s "talkies" hit the big screen. Eventually The Grand's run came to an end, and it closed in the early 1990s due to disrepair.
Undergoing a major renovation in 2002, the building now includes shops, a restaurant, office space and a top-floor ballroom for special events. As part of this renovation, The Grand has returned as a venue for film and live entertainment.

Another of the fine theatres that clustered around this intersection was Bligh's Capitol Theatre. Look around for its former location by discovering what remains of the stage. (Hint: The writing is on the wall!)"

The reverse side of this sign features a "You Are Here" map.

Historic Topic: Modern Age 1900 to date

Group Responsible for placement: City Government

Marker Type: City

Region: Willamette Valley

County: Marion

State of Oregon Historical Marker "Beaver Board": Not listed

Web link to additional information: Not listed

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