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 39 comments)

KenLayton
KenLayton on July 4, 2017 at 3:43 am

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
Silkpainter on July 4, 2017 at 5:37 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
KenLayton on July 4, 2017 at 3:15 pm

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
Silkpainter on July 4, 2017 at 9:20 pm

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

KenLayton
KenLayton on February 18, 2019 at 7:01 am

I heard the theater roof has collapsed under the weight of heavy snow on February 15, 2019.

Silkpainter
Silkpainter on February 23, 2019 at 5:34 pm

Hi Folks, I just wrote pages here and accidentally deleted it when I tried to post it. 😢

Bad, bad news. In Feb 12th, the roof of the Elma Theater collapsed under the weight if heavy snow. A 4’x30’ section of one wall broke and is precariously hanging toward the auditorium. Beneath that broken wall is a gas access pipe in the alley just inches from the wall.

The city is underdtandinly comcerned about the safety of the public.

Silkpainter
Silkpainter on February 23, 2019 at 5:34 pm

Hi Folks, I just wrote pages here and accidentally deleted it when I tried to post it. 😢

Bad, bad news. In Feb 12th, the roof of the Elma Theater collapsed under the weight if heavy snow. A 4’x30’ section of one wall broke and is precariously hanging toward the auditorium. Beneath that broken wall is a gas access pipe in the alley just inches from the wall.

The city is underdtandinly comcerned about the safety of the public.

Silkpainter
Silkpainter on February 23, 2019 at 5:55 pm

Bad, bad news for the Elma Theater. Early in the morning of Feb 12th, the roof of the thester collapsed under the weight of snow. One wall was seriously damages and is a searious hazard to the immediatelt neighbors.

This is my third attempt to post this so I’m going to cut it short and be very blunt. The city is in trak to demolish the theater and I, as owner, get to pick up the tab. There is inly a sliver of hope left that I can convince the city not to demolish this piece of history. That sliver is $500,000 in an escrow account and plans drawn up by a structural engineer and an architect that prove that I am on track to restore the theater.

This is more than devastating to me. I don’t know how many people in this small community even know that the theater is about to be demolished.

If any of you know a philanthropisr that would love to help save this theater please share my fundraising page:

gofundme.com/urgent-the-walls-are-caving-in

There are a few photos and a lovely narrative about the theater written by a dear friend.

Any donations offered between now and the certification of my organization as 501©3 certified, will be tax deductible. I applied 6 weeks ago and expect to receive the certificat within 4 weeks.

Thank you for your time reading and sharing this post.

Edna Porter Owner, President Elma Performing Arts Center (Formerly Elma Theater) (The Historic Elma Theater Restoration Project) PO Box 1422, Elma, WA. 98541 (360) 910-9933

KenLayton
KenLayton on March 28, 2019 at 4:53 am

Bad news:

https://www.thedailyworld.com/news/with-roof-collapsed-its-likely-curtains-for-old-elma-theater/

Silkpainter
Silkpainter on March 28, 2019 at 12:47 pm

Ken, Thank you for posting this. I had not seen it yet.

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