Music Box Theatre

902 Broadway,
Tacoma, WA 98402

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MUSIC BOX Theatre, Tacoma, Washington

Tacoma’s grand opera house, the Tacoma Theater, was built in 1889 by the Tacoma Opera House Company and opened Jan. 13, 1890. The elaborate Tudor-style building covered a full city block.

A 3 manual, 14 ranks Robert Morton theatre pipe organ was installed in the 1920’s.

It was remodeled for motion pictures and renamed the Broadway Theater in 1927. More than 20,000 people attended the grand opening on February 4, 1927.

It was renamed the Music Box Theatre in 1933. The building was destroyed in a spectacular fire on April 30, 1963. About 100 people were attending a showing of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” when the fire broke out.

While a movie theater, the Broadway/Music Box Theatre attracted big name stars like Ronald Reagan, Lassie, the Barrymores, Al Jolson, and many more.

Contributed by Kate

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 3, 2005 at 6:05 am

This page at the City of Tacoma’s web site has information about this theater, and has two small photographs of it, including one of the building in flames on May 1st, 1963.

The name of the architect is given as J.M. Wood of Chicago, assisted by A.F. Heide, with exterior design by John Galen Howard and interiors by Sydney Lowell. The 1927 renovation was by architects Heath, Grove & Bell.

strawberry on April 15, 2006 at 9:48 pm

“On the evening of May 1st, 1963 fire destroyed the Music Box Theatre, originally known as The Tacoma Theatre and a downtown Tacoma landmark since 1890, causing damage that may amount to one million dollars or more.

The Tacoma Theatre’s extravagant opening January 13th, 1890 heralded 73 years of entertainment for the people of Tacoma. Situated in the center of downtown Tacoma, the theatre was considered the heart of the huge 9th and Broadway landmark.

For 38 years the greatest of the entertainment world graced its huge stage. Names as Henery Irving, David Warfield, Lily Langtry, Lillian Russell, Maude Adams, Otis Skinner, The Barrymores, Walker Whiteside, Harry Lauder, Kolb & Dill, Al Jolson and many, many more."


MissZandMe on December 3, 2007 at 6:08 pm

Here are links to scans of my grandmother’s program from The Tacoma when she saw Anna Pavlowa’s farewell performance there in the 1920s.

View link

View link

View link

MissZandMe on December 3, 2007 at 6:22 pm

Great additional photos! Thanks for the link. So nice to see where my Gram was for a performance she never forgot and always talked about.

TLSLOEWS on December 29, 2009 at 1:51 pm

Nice picture of the fire,I like the name Music Box Theatre.

pnelson on November 8, 2015 at 8:06 pm

The Pantages and Rialto in Tacoma are still active theatres as is the Blue Mouse.

DavidZornig on January 13, 2016 at 7:18 pm

1925 stage photo courtesy of the Tacoma Public Library.

gregsalo on June 1, 2020 at 10:09 pm

Here are some additional photos of the old theater, specifically in regard to the 3/14 Robert Morton pipe organ.

Music Box (a/k/a Tacoma, Broadway) Theatre Broadway & 9th, Tacoma, Washington Organ installation timeframe: 1920s – 1963

Link to photos here:

DavidZornig on July 20, 2020 at 7:56 pm

1959 night photo added courtesy Ken Widmeyer.

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