Rex Theater

326 W. Riverside Avenue,
Spokane, WA 99201

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REX Theatre; Spokane, Washington.

Prior to the inception of talking pictures, the Rex Theater was owned by the Will Starkey Theaters Company. In 1928, the theater was sold to C.G. Bowman and Jack Hoeft.

Contributed by Ken McIntyre

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 13, 2007 at 5:51 am

I found the following for a Rex Theater in Spokane:

“Spokane’s Rex Theater opens on May 11, 1912. Essay 5042

On May 11, 1912, B. W. Copeland opens Spokane’s lavish Rex Theater. Representing an expenditure of $20,000, the venue holds almost every modern convenience known to moviegoers at the time, and was said to have enjoyed big business.

With a seating capacity of 500, the venue was a long one, with a 120-foot span (or ?throw?) between the projection booth and the screen. In 1913, the house employed two projectionists at salaries of $25 per week. Projectionists were expected to work six-hour shifts and operate both of the Rex’s machines, a Simplex projector and the popular Powers #6 model".

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 13, 2007 at 7:42 am

“September 17, 1913, Albert Hayes was seriously burned about the face and hands when a fire erupted in the projection booth of the Rex Theatre in Spokane. At the time motion picture film was printed on highly flammable nitrate stock, a practice that made a projectionist’s occupation fairly hazardous by today’s standards”.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 4, 2010 at 6:26 am

Here is a small photo of the Rex in 1913, from the trade journal The Moving Picture World.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 10, 2011 at 2:13 am

The Rex Theatre was on the north side of W. Riverside Avenue a few doors east of Washington Street. WorthPoint currently has a postcard on display (second card in the popup slide show- some browsers might not be able to fetch it) which they date 1955. The Rex was open at that time, showing a Bette Davis movie.

If the date is correct, the movie was probably “The Virgin Queen” (the marquee isn’t really readable in the online display.) The newest cars I can pick out on the street appear to be from the early 1950s, so the Rex was certainly open at least that late. It’s definitely the same building as the one in the 1913 photo I linked to in my previous comment, too. The arch is recognizable, though partly obscured by a modern marquee.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 20, 2012 at 1:44 am

A brief history of Spokane’s movie theaters published in the July 15, 1913, issue of The Moving Picture World says that the house that became the Rex Theatre in 1912 had actually opened on August 22, 1908, as the Empire Theatre, a Cineograph house. Cineograph was an early process for making movies with sound. The article doesn’t say how long the Empire operated as a Cineograph house, but does say that B.W. Copeland took over the theater in 1912, remodeled it and renamed it the Rex.

A May 20, 1944, item in The Billboard mentions a Nu-Rex Theatre in Spokane, which was probably this same house. Nu-Rex operator James A. Pike had taken over the Empress Theatre and established a policy of first-run movies with a stage show at that house, and had abandoned stage shows at the Nu-Rex, switching it to an all-movies policy on January 1.

A comment by Dave Zarkin on this Blogger post gives the address of the Rex Theatre as 326 Riverside Avenue, and recalls that in the mid 1960s the house was showing what were then called “girlie movies,” which I’m quite sure are not the same thing as “chick flicks.”

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