1414 Second Avenue,
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Considered to be the first theater in Seattle constructed primarily for the exhibition of motion pictures, the Clemmer Theatre bore the name of James Q. Clemmer, who spent $135,000 to construct the movie palace.
Seattle had several movie theaters before the Clemmer, but most were either remodeled storefronts or live theaters that also showed movies.
That the Clemmer Theatre isn’t as well remembered as other Seattle theaters isn’t surprising; it bore the Clemmer name for only nine years before being renamed the Columbia Theatre in 1922.
In 1912, the Seattle Times described the theater: “The old Roman style is in vogue, plain columns set off by flaming electric torches. These torches are decidedly unique and something new in the manner of theatrical lighting in the West”.
One of the standout elements of the theater was its organ. On April 7, 1912, The Seattle Sunday Times reported: “Great Organ to Be Installed”.
“On either side of the proscenium arch, in large specially built niches will be placed the pipes of the massive pipe organ which will be one of the largest and finest on the Coast. This organ is being built in the East, but could not be completed in time for the opening of the theatre. It will be installed within the next thirty days. Oliver G. Wallace, recognized as a genius in the interpretation of photoplays on the pipe organ and piano, will be the player”.
The Clemmer/Columbia building still stands today, but it now houses a restaurant.
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