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From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Oct. 12, 2000:
“The Bay — which has been a Ballard landmark since 1915 and has laid claim to being the oldest continuously operating theater in the country — has not really been preserved.
It was so structurally deteriorated that the developers found it impossible to renovate. It’s essentially a brand-new, $5 million triplex in the same location, with all the amenities of the new millennium theaters, including stadium seating, a state-of-the-art sound system and computerized ticketing (major credit cards accepted).
But the new theater is also very much an architectural tribute to the old one and a kind of museum of the kinder, gentler moviegoing experience of the past.
Owner Ken Alhadeff told the P-I last month that his intention was to ‘build the nation’s finest neighborhood theater — a theater with a soul.’ In a sense, he’s betting on a high-touch reaction against the gigantic megaplexes that have now taken over the movie-exhibition business, to the point that the big chains now are closing down their less profitable multiplexes with only three, six or eight screens."
From the local newspaper The Vidette on March 31, 2005:
Former McCleary theater and auction site may be sold
Two years ago, fire destroyed the old McCleary Auction House building, leaving a pile of rubble, and a $24,000 bill to clean up the remains, which the city footed when the owner didn’t. At the March 23 City Council meeting, a local couple, Joyce Graham, who ran the concession counter at the auction house, and her husband, Frank, told the Council they are interested in paying the $24,000 owed to the city to purchase the property to open a business.
I heard this theater has been renovated and reopened for live performances. Is that true?
Does anyone have a Web link that works for this theater? The one above doesn’t take me to the Newton Theatre.
According to my dad, a Franklin native, this was not originally a movie theater. It was a playhouse, and, in fact, my grandmother performed there. The tiny theater became a movie theater probably in the mid-30s.
My father’s cousin Raymond Hyde owned the Franklin Theater at some point, and my aunt Peg ran the ticket booth when she was in high school.
My dad says the theater had maybe 20 rows, and it had a balcony.
Dad says the theater was nothing fancy — no special decoration but lovely draperies.
Does anyone know the current status of this theater? I loved going to movies there as a child, and I still enjoying driving by it. It’s such a pretty building. For a place that seemingly sits vacant, it has been kept it good shape.
Was this theater also known as Gwynn’s or Amour theater?
If you go to http://search.tpl.lib.wa.us/images/ and type Rialto into the search line, you can find lots of historic photos of the theater, including some beautiful interior shots. There are none there from the renovation, though. Just from the 1920’s to 1950’s.
From the Met’s Web site:
Built in 1915 by local developer August Paulsen, the Old Clemmer Theater was considered state-of-the-art in its day, seating nearly 800 patrons. The theater represents a turning point in mass entertainment, when vaudeville was relinquishing top billing to silent films and the era of lavishly embellished movie palaces was about to begin. Designed by noted theater architect Edwin W. Houghton, The Clemmer embodied the restrained Neoclassicism of these traditional movie houses. It would come to be known as The State Theater in later years. Inland Northwest residents lined the streets in anticipation to see “Casablanca,” “The Godfather,” “Gone With the Wind” and thousands of other first-run movies.
A 16-plex opened in 1997 and closed in 2000? Yikes.
Great photos here:
Here is a great Web site with photos and history of the Coliseum …
The photo looks too new to be the Coliseum Theatre.
Where is the Pacific in relation to the Egyptian and the Scientology building?
So what’s the latest with the Pacific? I was just in Hollywood and scoping out the old theaters and missed this one somehow.
It almost reminds me of the Senator in Baltimore, but it is definitely not. I agree with Manwithnoname about it not matching quite right. With a marquee that size, I would assume a theater name would be atop it. Hmmm. I am anxious to see if this mystery is solved.
There was space for 650 cars.
There are great photos to look at if you go to http://search.tpl.lib.wa.us/images/, and then type Star-Lite in the search line.
Another site I looked at said this theater was also known as the Regent.
So far, it’s been the Regent, Riviera, Liberty and Capri.
Dominic Constanti built the Liberty in 1924 for $70,000. It had a stage for vaudeville performers and even a Wurlitzer organ. Mike Barovic – then the theater manager – married Constanti’s daughter, Andrea. When Barovic purchased the theater in 1939, he renamed it Barovic’s Liberty Theater.
He became a major commercial property owner in Puyallup and owned many movie theaters, including two in Tacoma, two in Puyallup (the Liberty and the Roxy), and one each in Sumner, Parkland and Aberdeen. He was part-owner of the Fife and 112th Street East drive-ins.
When Tom Neumann bought the Liberty in 1999, he said he’d keep the Cinemascope screen and projector and might show movies on special occasions.
The address for the Midway is 24050 Pacific Highway S. The drive-in was reportedly built in 1940.
When I was a little girl, I remember zipping along I-5 with my parents and trying to catch the tiniest glimpse of what was playing on the screen. It was so hard. (I did better seeing what was on the screen at the Fife drive-in.)
To this day, when I’m driving on I-5, I still look toward the Midway screen — which is more visible now that trees have been cut down between the freeway and the theater — and I always hope that magically there’ll be a movie playing on that screen.
I know that won’t happen… So sad.
I just found a record through the Tacoma Public Library that says the Liberty Theater was at 906-08 Pacific Ave. in 1918 and in the 1920s.
Regarding ghamilton’s recent comment: The Temple Theatre is alive and well, but not serving as a movie theater. It is now the Landmark Convention Center at 47 St. Helens Ave. I just submitted the Temple as a new listing for Cinema Treasures, so more details should be coming soon. The Landmark/Temple’s site is www.tacomaslandmark.com
This theater was known as the RKO Orpheum from 1930 to 1932.