Elma Theater

113 N. 4th Street,
Elma, WA 98541

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Carbon arc lamphouse

Originally named the Graham Theater which opened October 1, 1927. The Elma Theater, which was the only operating theater for miles, served as a venue for mostly live stage shows, with an occasional movie. The theater was equipped for stereo sound, operated 20 minute reels with changeover, and hah carbon arc lamphouses.

Sadly, damage from recent earthquakes hurt the Elma Theater, but volunteers were for a while working tirelessly to repair its beautiful workmanship. The building had more live bookings than any other theater in southwest Washington. It was closed in late-2013.

Contributed by Ken Layton

Recent comments (view all 33 comments)

Sludgeycore on March 6, 2017 at 5:02 pm

I’d also love to see this theater restored! We just moved to Elma and are involved in the theater scene. If a GoFundMe was made, we would be happy to contribute.

KenLayton on April 26, 2017 at 10:40 pm

I understand the bank has taken back the theater.

KenLayton on May 30, 2017 at 12:43 am

Still closed and boarded up. No signs of any activity.

Silkpainter on June 8, 2017 at 11:35 pm

Announcement: I have just submitted (along with a Cashier’s check) my intent to purchase the Elma Theater in Elma, WA. There is a lot of work to be done. First, clearing huge amounts of trash from the building. Then, gutting the theater due to water and mold damage from a hole in the roof that has subjected the interior to years of being exposed to the elements.

Besides a large amount of financial investment, many skills and hours upon hours of labor will be required to restore the theater to its original grandure.


If you are interested in getting involved with this project, please send your contact information and skills you would like to apply to this project to: .

A meeting of interested investors and volunteers will be scheduled sometime in August.

Edna Porter

KenLayton on July 2, 2017 at 1:17 am

Any more updates? Did you purchase the theater?

Silkpainter on July 3, 2017 at 7:19 pm

Yes! I purchased the Elma Theater! I now have the deed and the keys, so it is officially mine, for better or worse. And it can’t get much worse. There has been a hole in the roof for several years causing extensive water, mold and rust damage. But that did not deter me. I could see through all of that. Its former grandeur is still evident. And it will return to that grandeur. It will certainly take blood, sweat and tears…and a lot of money to bring it to fruition.

I am looking for people who know how to write grant purposals. There is no money yet. So at this point all help will have to be volunteered. My first expense will be for a structural engineer-to see if the theater can actually be restored. The next expense will be for mold remediation. So, besides money, my first big need is for someone with grant writing experience.

If you have rose-colored glasses and can see what I see, and want to get in olved, please send your contact information to:

KenLayton on July 3, 2017 at 10:43 pm

Let me guess, the hole in the roof is right over the stage and has been leaking on all the backdrops and on the stage floor?

Kingsley Hall had been working on updating all the electrical wiring in the building and had some sort of wood pellet heater installed for heating the auditorium. By chance do you know what happened to the E-L-M-A letters on the sign? I know Kingsley also had a few security cameras setup to keep an eye on the rear doors of the building.

Silkpainter on July 4, 2017 at 12:37 am

Yes, the hole in the roof is above the stage. I will be meeting with the grandsughter of the Grahams who were the first owners. I am hoping to learn details about the history of the theater. I have only lived in Elma a year and a half.

The theater building has two storefront shops. I am hoping to use one as a museum of the theater and the City of Elma. I would like to gather as much history about the theater as I can. I would like to reinstitute favorite traditions that relate to the theater.

I do not know what happened to the letters. They may be inside. I have only been in the theater once. I need to get respirators and hazmat suits before entering again. Also, I don’t know if asbestos was used in construction. My first concern is the health and safety of anyone entering the building. As of yet, the building is still deemed unsafe and no one but the owner can enter until that status is lifted.

KenLayton on July 4, 2017 at 10:15 am

The right hand storefront (as looking at the front of building) was a barbershop for many years. The left hand storefront was I believe a second hand or antique store.

Silkpainter on July 4, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Ken Layton, how are you connected to Elma? Did you grow up here? Do you live here now?

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