Avalon Theatre

308 4th Avenue E,
Olympia, WA 98501

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Avalon, 1920s

The Avalon Theatre opened April 26, 1928 with “The Winning of Barbara Worth”. On June 1, 1952, it closed with the double feature of “Ma and Pa Kettle At The Fair” with “The Magic Carpet” and a Tom & Jerry cartoon. It is believed that architect Joseph Wohleb also had a hand in designing this theatre. The building was used as Griswold’s Office Supply store from 1989 until it was destroyed in a blaze on July 31, 2004. The four walls are still standing in 2018.

Contributed by Ken Layton

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

KathyRuse
KathyRuse on February 15, 2006 at 1:58 pm

I have a great photo of the Avalon Theatre taken in 1929 (“Say It With Songs,” Al Jolson’s first full-length talkie, was showing at the time). I will upload it when that feature is reactivated. My grandfather, Arthur Hamer, was a projectionist at the Avalon for the entire time it was open (April 27, 1928 until June 1951, according to a newspaper article about his retirement). My mom virtually grew up inside the theatre, developing her great love of movies there, and still remembers the “popcorn lady,” Mrs. Tryon.

KenLayton
KenLayton on May 3, 2006 at 12:52 pm

Good news, according to the “Development Reports” in the Olympian newspaper, permits are in submission phase ‘for restoration of the Avalon movie theater’ by BJSS Duarte Bryant architects. YES!

KenLayton
KenLayton on November 15, 2006 at 3:39 pm

Bad news….all work stopped and building put up for sale.

Hodges Commercial Real Estate
626 Columbia St. NW, Suite 1-A
Olympia, Wash. 98501
Phone: (360) 943-5079
Contact: Larry Gilliam at extension # 209

www.hgdre.com

There’s a pdf file about this building but it makes absolutely no mention of it’s life as the historic Avalon Theater, only it’s last life as Griswold Office Supply. Check out the link at:

www.hgdre.com/pdf/308-310_4th_Ave.pdf

KenLayton
KenLayton on March 10, 2007 at 12:51 pm

More bad news. A local business newspaper is reporting the building has been sold. It is to be torn down and be replaced with condos!

jerryelsea
jerryelsea on July 9, 2010 at 5:10 pm

When I knew the Avalon in 1951 and early ‘52, it looked ready to breathe its last. The whole place smelled like popcorn. Still, it was the only one of the four downtown Olympia theaters to guarantee “always a double feature,” albeit strictly second-run. (Other movie houses were the State, Capitol and Olympic — all upscale compared with the gone-to-seed Avalon.) Despite the twin-bill obligation, the Avalon’s proprietors usually managed to package the program for three hours total — example, “Samson and Delilah” plus “Bowery Boys.” That meant parents could drop the kids off a 1 and pick them up at 4.

KenLayton
KenLayton on June 9, 2011 at 5:45 am

Nothing else has been done with the remaining portion of the building. There is still talk that this site will be turned into condos.

KenLayton
KenLayton on August 3, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Opened on Thursday April 26, 1928 and closed Sunday June 1, 1952.

Dadfive
Dadfive on July 1, 2018 at 6:58 pm

Kathy, Ken, others

I have the Excel popcorn popper from the Avalon theater. I picked it up from a collector on the west side of the state. I have disassenled it and in the process of restoration. And when restored it will end up being a center piece of our 1930’ thru 1950’s era home theatre.

I’m very interested in getting information and a photo of Mrs Tryon to place w the popper. I live in eastern Washington, but travel to west side, so would be glad to meet and visit w the family.

Would really appreciate any help in locating family memebers in the Olympia area.

Thanks

Ricky

KenLayton
KenLayton on July 2, 2018 at 4:40 am

There is still talk that the remaining 4 walls of the theater will be torn down and apartments will replace the theater. It looks more and more like the apartments will win out.

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