The Whiteside Theatre - Corvallis, OR
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NW_history_buff
N 44° 33.813 W 123° 15.742
10T E 479165 N 4934501
The historic Whiteside Theatre was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
Waymark Code: WMY9HG
Location: Oregon, United States
Date Posted: 05/15/2018
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member TheBeanTeam
Views: 1

A historical marker located across the street from the Whiteside Theatre reads:

The Whiteside Theatre opened on November 9, 1922. That evening, the audience enjoyed the silent picture "The Old Homestead," accompanied by Lilian McElroy on a $20,000 two manual, double touch Wurlitzer organ. That organ was the largest, and the Whiteside Theatre the grandest, in the state of Oregon, except for the Liberty Theater in Portland.

The Whiteside Theatre cost $100,000 to build and was the pride of owners Samuel and George Whiteside, brothers who pioneered the theater business in Corvallis. Their family came from Iowa to Corvallis in 1891 when the boys were teens. The brothers first operated a transfer service, followed by a grocery business and a shoe store. The brothers also operated a traveling theater tent show that visited small towns in the area. They operated Corvallis first movie house, the Palace Theater, in 1908. They went on to operate the Crystal, the Star and the Majestic before opening "Corvallis' Finest," the Whiteside, in 1922.

The theater was designed by Seattle architect H. Ryan and built by local contractor Frank McFadden, using brick from Builders Supply Company and lumber from Buxton's Central Planing Mill, both Corvallis firms.

The Whiteside Theatre was decorated in the style of a grand movie palace. Heavy velour curtains bordered with silk fringe hung on the stage. The cinema screen of gold fiber material, constructed especially for the Whiteside, was "scientifically manufactured" to fit the exact distance between the screen and the projector. The foyer was richly carpeted with Wilton rugs and adorned with rose-colored velour hangings. The foyer featured decorative wall lamps, a marble drinking fountains, statues and beveled mirrors.

The restroom lounges were furnished with writing stands of French wicker in blue and ivory, couches and dressing tables. The walls were paneled in orange and black, and the carpets were blue and black velvet. The restrooms had furnishings in blue and gold, upholstery in silk mohair fabric, and light fixtures with antique gold finish.

The auditorium was lighted by an indirect light dome with hundreds of concealed light bulbs, featuring three circuits, dimmers and multicolored lamps. The seats were large and comfortable, including loge chairs of leather. The theater seated 635 on the main floor and 500 in the balcony.

The theater was built primarily for cinema; however, live productions also were presented on stage.

On October 19, 1927, a fire destroyed the interior. All 50 patrons escaped safely. Firemen from the station across the street doused the fire, but not before the building suffered $50,000 in damage. The theater was completely redone inside, including a new Wurlitzer organ, cove lighting and chandelier.

On December 26, 1928, the Whiteside Theatre showed the first talking movie in Corvallis, "Lonesome," starring Glenn Tryon and Barbara Kent. It was advertised as "a perfect talking picture" - "Talk where talking is needed, Silence where silence is golden."

Early Corvallis Theaters
The Whiteside brothers operated the Palace Theater in 1908 on Second Street between Monroe and Jackson. The first building erected in Corvallis for the purpose of showing movies, the Palace features an electric piano and a seating capacity of 300. Prior to building the Palace, the Whiteside brothers showed movies under a tent across the street from the Palace site.

In 1909, the Weekly Gazette advertised "the Best Moving Pictures ever shown in this city, 4000 feet of the finest films direct from San Francisco." The show was at the Opera House; admission was 10 cents.

In 1910, a combined ad appeared in the Daily Gazette Times for movies at the Palace Theater, and also at the Star Theater. One of the features was called "Speed vs. Death, A magnificent display of courage, true love and furious horsemanship in the face of danger to stay the hand of death."

The Whitesides opened the Crystal Theatre in 1910. It was located in the Knights of Pythias building at 140 SW Second Street and featured mixed shows of film and live performances.

The Whiteside brothers opened their Majestic Theater on Second Street in 1913, featuring movies and live performances. A 1920 advertisement featured D.W. Griffith's "Broken Blossoms," starring Lillian Gish, for an admission price of 30 cents.

This theater was renamed the Varsity Theater in 1949. In 1987, the building was renovated for presentation of live performances and renamed the Majestic Theater.

In 1916, there was an outdoor theater called the Airdome located next to an outdoor ice cream parlor at the site of the future Whiteside Theatre. It was operated by Byron Taylor.

The Blue Mouse Theater opened in 1922 at 106 North Second Street, operated by Trask and Stone.

The grand Whiteside Theatre, "Corvallis' Finest," opened in 1922 at Fourth and Madison.

The Oregon State Theatre was opened in 1931 at 219 South Third Street by Alfred Roy, Jr. The theater was later operated for many years by the Adamson family.

The Midway Theatre, the local drive-in, opened on April 19, 1949. It was located on Highway 99W between Corvallis and Albany and held 500 cars.

Historic Topic: Modern Age 1900 to date

Group Responsible for placement: Historical Society

Marker Type: City

Region: Willamette Valley

County: Benton

Web link to additional information: [Web Link]

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

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Tootsie.22 visited The Whiteside Theatre - Corvallis, OR 05/03/2022 Tootsie.22 visited it