Avalon Theatre

308 East 4th Avenue,
Olympia, WA 98501

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Avalon, 1920s

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Avalon Theatre opened in 1928 with “The Winning of Barbara Worth”. In 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 theater. The building was used as Griswold’s Office Supply store from 1989 until it was destroyed in a blaze on July 31, 2004.

Contributed by Ken Layton

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

KenLayton on November 19, 2004 at 3:43 pm

The building is being saved! There has been a tall crane there for the past two weeks installing brand new steel I beams bracing the walls and getting ready to put on a new roof. Hooray!

KenLayton on September 6, 2005 at 12:40 pm

Well after all these months, nothing more has been done. The walls have indeed been braced with a criss-cross mesh of steel “I” beams, but still no roof. The building is just an empty shell and is now boarded up at the street level to keep people out. Nothing is being done at this theater right now. :(

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 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 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


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:


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 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 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 on August 3, 2011 at 6:29 pm

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

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