Audion Theater

103 E. Third Avenue,
Ellensburg, WA 98926

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Audion Theatre (2012)

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The Audion Theater was opened as the Orpheus Theater. On December 31, 1913 the theater was renamed Colonial Theater and began showing movies. In 1935 the Colonial Theater was remodeled and the name was changed to the Audion Theater. From the mid-1980s until late-2007, the former theater building housed an antiques store, but became vacant in early-2008. In the summer of 2009, it had reopened as a retail unit.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

Gooper
Gooper on October 19, 2005 at 5:40 am

The Audion was know as a Western house, as mostly that genre, from the Monogram and Republic studios, was the staple. Occasionally a first rank picture would show, like John Ford’s ‘How Green Was My Valley’. By the 1960s the house was shuttered. It is noted for its Deco ‘spillway’ facade, recently painted. The marquee is intact. The western end of it is butted up against the canopy of its nextdoor neighbor, the Pix (a.k.a. The Village; Grand Central – recently closed). Its lobby is modest but pleasant. Auditorium access is via two ramps which flank this narrow house. Some of the original accoustic wall covering remains, stencilled in dim Deco patterns. The stage had a proper fly gallery, and the pit below is considerable. The Audion remained derelict until an enterprising furniture builder turned it into an antiques mall in the mid 1980s.

Gooper
Gooper on February 6, 2008 at 8:29 am

As of late 2007, the antiques mall that occupied the Audion for almost 20 years has gone out of business, and it stands empty, like the former Pix, next door. It could easily be restored as a picture house.

Gooper
Gooper on February 6, 2008 at 2:59 pm

The Audion was part of the small Mid-State Theatres organization.

Gooper
Gooper on September 9, 2009 at 12:39 pm

As of 2009, the Audion is again occupied by small specialty shops.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 9, 2009 at 9:33 pm

Here’s a brief item from the February 26, 1938, issue of Boxoffice: “Fire damaged Clarence Farrell’s new Audion Theatre in Ellensburg and the house will be closed for some time for repairs.” That’s the earliest mention of the Audion I’ve been able to find, and I can’t find the Colonial or Ellensburg mentioned at all.

A July 30, 1938, Boxoffice item said that Clarence Farrell was showing first-run movies at his Audion and Midstate theaters in Ellensburg. The Midstate had opened the previous year, according to an announcement in Boxoffice of December 18, 1937. The 1938 item also said that Clarence Farrell had been running a theater at Ellensburg for 17 years, and though the item didn’t give a name for it, it was most likely the Audion when it was called the Colonial.

The July 20, 1946 issue of Boxoffice reported that Clarence Farrell, having purchased the Pix and Liberty theaters at Ellensburg from Fred Mercy, would dismantle his Midstate Theatre there and would use the Audion as a stand-by theater. I’ve found no later mentions of the Audion in Boxoffice.

Gooper
Gooper on June 20, 2011 at 5:04 pm

As of 6/11, the Audion building is FOR SALE.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 9, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Our current description conflates two theaters, an error probably derived from this article published in the local newspaper in 2005. The Audion was never the Ellensburg Theatre, which was located in the Lloyd Building at the southwest corner of Third Avenue and Pine Street, and was demolished in 1953.

The Audion was a house that was called the Orpheus Theatre until it was bought, remodeled and renamed the Colonial Theatre by J. E. Ferrell in late 1913. The Colonial Theatre opened on New Year’s Eve, according to this ad that Ferrell placed in the January 8, 1914, issue of the Ellensburg Capital.

This article about the opening of the Audion Theatre on Thursday, November 28, 1935, appeared in the Ellensburg Daily Record the following Monday. It doesn’t mention the house having previously been the Colonial Theatre, but this article from the April 26, 1979, Daily Record does. In 1979, the theater had been disused for more than three decades, having been closed in the mid-1940s when theaters in Ellensburg were consolidated under a single operator (my previous comment cites Boxoffice of July 20, 1946, which says that Clarence Farrell intended to use the Audion as a standby theatre. It might never have reopened.) The house might not have been dismantled until 1957, though, when classified ads in the newspaper offered seats from the Audion Theatre for sale.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 9, 2014 at 11:35 pm

An October, 1913, newspaper item refereed to the Orpheus as Ellensburg’s “new movie theater.” It wasn’t open for long before it was renamed the Colonial, then.

Also, a correction to my previous comment: The Ellensburg theater was at the Southeast corner of Third and Pine, not the southwest corner. The Ellensburg was the house that in its last days became the Midstate Theatre, which Clarence Farrell dismantled in 1946.

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