Coliseum Theater

500 Pike Street,
Seattle, WA 98101

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Showing 26 - 33 of 33 comments

gsmurph
gsmurph on December 17, 2005 at 9:59 am

Uh, shouldn’t this theater’s status actually be “Closed” as a theater????

droben
droben on October 8, 2005 at 5:22 am

One can only imagine how beautiful this theater was before a “remodel” was done in 1949, which destroyed nearly all of the interior decorations noted above.

Saps brings up an interesting question, wondering how The Coliseum could deteriorate into a grindhouse, even with its enviable location in the middle of downtown Seattle’s retail core. When Tom Moyer’s Luxury Theaters of Portland Oregon took over operation in the late ‘70’s, the already deteriorating theater went into a steeper decline with minimal maintenance performed on it. Finding a seat that wasn’t broken became more difficult. The Coliseum even made the front pages of the daily newspapers when on the opening night of Seattle’s only presentation of “Dune” in 70mm, riots nearly broke out when the poorly maintained projection equipment broke down several times.

Although it is true that the current Banana Republic could be gutted and The Coliseum could rise once again, this is very doubtful. At least the exterior is preserved and looks as if it had just been built.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on September 13, 2005 at 9:04 pm

Visited the Coliseum today, and while the outside is stunning — the terra cotta seems to gleam a bright white and the name “COLISEVM” is clearly visible at the top of both sides the facade — the interior is not recognizable as a theater. There are about a dozen pieces of ornate plasterwork artfully displayed throughout the store, but since none of them are the traditional masks of comedy/tragedy, they don’t seem especially theatrical. I actually stumbled across this building a couple of days ago was very impressed, not even realizing that it had once been a theater, until I noticed the plaque on Pike Street. It really does stand out, and it’s hard to imagine this ornate monument had once deteriorated into a grindhouse, especially since the neighborhood seems like a real silk stocking district.

kateymac01
kateymac01 on May 4, 2005 at 3:59 pm

Here is a great Web site with photos and history of the Coliseum …

http://www.nwlink.com/~erick/coliseum/col-a-4.html

dirkee
dirkee on April 2, 2005 at 6:13 pm

I was assistant manager at the Coliseum Theatre for about 6 months in 1987. It was run by Luxury Theatres at the time. It was in pretty sad shape, but you could tell what a grand theatre it used to be. The balconies were closed, but people still would sneak up there once in awhile and we had to chase them out. We ran 3 shows a night and got about 30 people per show on average. We got a lot of drunks and had to wake them up after the show. Not a great era for the old theatre…

JimRankin
JimRankin on May 27, 2004 at 3:37 am

This theatre is one of some 200 that could be described as “Skouras-ized For Showmanship” which is the title of the ANNUAL of 1987 of the Theatre Historical Soc. of America. In the late 1930s through the 1950s, there occurred on the west coast of the United States a phenomenon known as the ‘Skouras style’ in recognition of the oversight of the Skouras brothers in their management of several cinema chains. They employed a designer by the name of Carl G. Moeller to render their cinemas/theatres in a new style best described as ‘Art Moderne meets Streamlined Rococo.’ The then new availability of aluminum sheeting at low cost was the principal material difference to this style allowing for sweeping, 3-dimensional shapes of scrolls to adorn walls and facades in an expression that would have been much more expensive and not at all the same in plaster. With the use of hand tinted and etched aluminum forms, the designers could make ornaments in mass production that allowed much greater economies of scale. The ANNUAL also shows in its 44 pages how some 20 theatres were good examples of this combining of aluminum forms with sweeping draperies heavily hung with large tassels, and with box offices and facades richly treated with neon within the aluminum forms. Few of these examples survive today, but it was a glorious era while it lasted, and this collection of crisp b/w photos is a fitting epitaph by the late Preston Kaufmann.
PHOTOS AVAILABLE:
To obtain any available Back Issue of either “Marquee” or of its ANNUALS, simply go to the web site of the THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA at:
www.HistoricTheatres.org
and notice on their first page the link “PUBLICATIONS: Back Issues List” and click on that and you will be taken to their listing where they also give ordering details. The “Marquee” magazine is 8-1/2x11 inches tall (‘portrait’) format, and the ANNUALS are also soft cover in the same size, but in the long (‘landscape’) format, and are anywhere from 26 to 44 pages. Should they indicate that a publication is Out Of Print, then it may still be possible to view it via Inter-Library Loan where you go to the librarian at any public or school library and ask them to locate which library has the item by using the Union List of Serials, and your library can then ask the other library to lend it to them for you to read or photocopy. [Photocopies of most THSA publications are available from University Microforms International (UMI), but their prices are exorbitant.]

Note: Most any photo in any of their publications may be had in large size by purchase; see their ARCHIVE link. You should realize that there was no color still photography in the 1920s, so few theatres were seen in color at that time except by means of hand tinted renderings or post cards, thus all the antique photos from the Society will be in black and white, but it is quite possible that the Society has later color images available; it is best to inquire of them.

Should you not be able to contact them via their web site, you may also contact their Executive Director via E-mail at:
Or you may reach them via phone or snail mail at:
Theatre Historical Soc. of America
152 N. York, 2nd Floor York Theatre Bldg.
Elmhurst, ILL. 60126-2806 (they are about 15 miles west of Chicago)

Phone: 630-782-1800 or via FAX at: 630-782-1802 (Monday through Friday, 9AM—4PM, CT)

Orlando
Orlando on March 9, 2004 at 1:50 pm

The theatre was not completely gutted, the balcony without seats and some ornate plasterwork still exist above the Banana Republic ceiling. The upper portion of the proscenium is also partially intact. The original theatre safe is also on display. I believe the rake on the orchestra floor is still there even though it has been leveled to street level. It could be put together again if it needed to be a theatre again.

Herb
Herb on February 17, 2003 at 9:12 pm

The Coliseum was open til the late 80’s. i wanna say “89”. I went there a few times when i was a kid. One particular time when I was 10, I went there with my older sister & her boyfriend to see “Brainstorm” & we sat on the balcony next to the projection room. The projectionist came out right before show time & asked me if I wanted to start it. ABSOLUTLEY!!! One of the best movie going experiences ever!!!! I was soooo nervous, all I really remember is flickering 1 or 2 buttons, and the red curtain (most the interior i remember was red) went up and the lights went down, & i heard the movie start!! I am disappointed it is now a “Banana Republic” but i read somewhere it could easily be converted back to a movie palace.