Moore Theatre

1932 2nd Avenue,
Seattle, WA 98121

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MikeLev on December 31, 2017 at 8:09 am

I have added a photo from WW1 era shows my Great Aunt Birdie, second from right, with friends, at the door of the Moore Theatre, Orpheum Vaudeville. I suspect this is the Seattle Theatre in this discussion. Birdie and family lived in Vancouver BC and had close relatives in Seattle. How does one add a photo to the discussion?

DavidZornig on October 25, 2015 at 5:55 pm

Undated photo added courtesy of the Cindi Sherstad. Moore Theatre marquee.

theonlydennisnyback on February 17, 2015 at 10:21 am

I worked as a projectionist at the Moore Egyptian from late 1975 into 1979. I have written about the Moore. It is in the book From the Arthouse to the Grindhouse. My essay is titled Art and Grind in Seattle.

BrucePaddock on February 7, 2015 at 12:53 pm

Anyone interested in a historic restoration of the beautiful old Moore Theater should check in the space under the 2nd balcony. When I worked at this theater in the early 1970’s, there were plaster casts of the original box seats (and lots of them) stored in that space. Hopefully they are still there and will be discovered once again. The Moore could really glow if some effort shown.

spectrum on January 4, 2015 at 7:28 pm

The Moore is owned by the Seattle Theatre Group, the same group that owns the Paramount and the Neptune.

Redwards1 on July 10, 2014 at 5:26 pm

The Moore was designed and functioned as a “legitimate” or live theatre and had only a brief life as a cinema. It has some of the finest acoustics on the west coast. Much of the interior construction features heavy plaster. The auditorium is considerably deeper than San Francisco’s Geary Theatre, which also has two balconies. Many actors had hoped the Seattle Rep might restore it rather than build a new home at Seattle Center.

LomaUsher on March 3, 2014 at 1:01 pm

My father heard the pianist Artur Rubenstein in concert in the Moore Theatre in 1946. We still have the program. Dad was in Seattle with the Coast Guard just prior to his discharge, and sat in the upper-balcony, lower right hand side. He says it was one of the most memorable concerts he ever heard, and he can still see it in front of him when he closes his eyes.

LomaUsher on March 3, 2014 at 12:59 pm

It should be pointed out that, whatever their segregational function in the United States, in traditional and standard theatre design up until the 1930’s, balconies usually had a separate entrance from the main part of the theatre and loge. Even the opera house at Covent Garden in London had a side entrance for the balcony (i.e. “cheap-seats”) up until the renovation in the late ‘90’s. Balcony entrances kept the hoi polloi away from the wealthier patrons, not just blacks away from whites.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 25, 2012 at 10:47 pm

It was Seattle’s first Orpheum Theatre, at 3rd and Madison, that was renamed the President Theatre, probably in 1927 when the new Orpheum at 5th and Stewart was opened. The first Orpheum isn’t listed at Cinema Treasures yet. I’ve been meaning to submit it for quite a while, but I keep misplacing my notes about it.

rockywoods on May 25, 2012 at 10:21 pm

The Moore was located on Second Avenue, at the corner of Virginia Street It was the first theatre built on Second Ave. Others quickly followed, and eventually became known as “Theatre Row”, I believe.
The Moore Theatre operated under that name as mostly for live shows: vaudeville, etc. In 1974 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1975, it was rented to a pair of entrepreneurs, who changed the name to the “Moore-Egyptian Theatre” They lost their lease in 1980, and the name reverted back to the “Moore Theatre”.

It has never been known as the “President”, which was built much later in late 1926 or 1927 by Paramount Studios.

For more information, see the Seattle Theatre Group history page:

And, the STG page on the President Theatre:

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 3, 2011 at 2:08 am

The Moore Theatre was never called the Orpheum, Old or otherwise. It presented Orpheum circuit vaudeville shows from 1916 or 1917 until 1927, but the theater’s name was never changed. The original Seattle Orpheum was an entirely different theater, opened in 1911 at Third Avenue and Madison Street. I’ve been unable to discover what became of the old Orpheum after the new Orpheum opened in 1927. It might have operated for awhile under another name, or it might have simply closed. By 1940, it was being used as storage space, and it was demolished in 1949.

Scorpionfury on March 22, 2010 at 3:24 pm

according to Wikipedia’s info: “Seating 2,436 in its original configuration, the Moore was one the largest theatres in the U.S. at the time.” Perhaps Cinema treasures is not taking into account the 2nd balcony, which was racially segregated from the rest of the house and has not been used for decades.
Cinema Treasures should double-check their info.

JonasClarkElliott on August 17, 2008 at 6:40 am

The Moore history notes that the segregated “gallery” has been removed. No, this “gallery” was the 2nd balcony, which is still there – but friends who’ve been going to the Moore for years are often surprised when I point it out, they never noticed it. A few of the lights in its dome’s stained glass still function. This balcony has a ridiculously steep rake that must be experienced to be believed, and it is not normally used due to the only access being a long staircase. From just inside the entrance ( after going through the balcony doot on the left) one must climb a narrow, steep flight of stairs, ending at a landing (where resides the bay window on the north side of the building), do a dogleg turn and go up a second flight, then do at least five switchback flights to reach the top. I saw Alan Parsons a few years back and, despite unusually light attendance, this was open – the only time I’ve seen it open – and I made certain to go up. As I wear a top hat and opera cloak to the theatre, I hope I inspired more ghost stories, though I’m certain the Moore has its share of real ones!
The Moore really needs restoration; the box seats have been removed, the second balcony looks worn-out (not that it sees much use, due to fire codes, see above) and ugly 70s chandeliers with olive-green “crystal” have been hung. Many light fixtures are missing, and everything but the lobby floor is under many coats of thick, white paint. I don’t believe it ever had a pipe organ at all. This place is a diamond-in-the-rough, and could really shine again. But despite its decline, it’s still a fine house for shows.

veyoung52 on December 5, 2007 at 6:44 pm

Another story on the hauntings at the Moore tonight (December 5, 2007) at 9PM Eastern on the Sci-Fi channel.

vgg6534 on October 26, 2007 at 6:19 pm

The Hotel and Theater are connected. A brick wall divides the Theater and Hotel basement. I may be wrong, but I don’t think this wall is part of the original construction.

taustin on October 15, 2007 at 11:46 pm

I took swimming lessons as a young teenager at the Moore basement pool from an aged Helene Madison, a former Olympic gold medal swimmer, in the 1950’s. As I remember the pool had a very low ceiling and several large pillars in the pool holding up the ceiling. Some years later as a young lawyer, I represent the Seattle production of the musical Hair when it performed at the Moore and had received bomb threats for ripping off the hippy movement. Tom
She won three gold medals in freestyle at the 1932 Summer Olympic Games.… In sixteen months in 1930 and 1931, she broke sixteen world records in various distances. Following the 1932 Olympics she appeared in the films The Human Fish and The Warrior’s Husband and hence, as a professional, was not allowed to participate in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. After her swimming career, she did odd jobs as a swimming instructor, department store clerk and a nurse. Divorced thrice and living alone, she died of cancer in 1970 in Seattle, Washington.

Patsy on October 10, 2007 at 7:36 pm

Correction: I see that the Moore Hotel had a swimming pool in the basement, not the theatre?

Patsy on October 10, 2007 at 7:34 pm

Tonight on the Sci Fi channel a program about the Moore Theatre was broadcast. It was about ghosthunters and their evening spent in the theatre. Interesting to read that in the basement there was or is a pool? What is a pool doing in the basement of a theatre?

vgg6534 on September 22, 2007 at 5:28 pm

When you were “8ish” and running around the Moore Theatre who were you with? Some of the places in the theatre you mentioned were not open to the public, let alone to an eight year old kid. You would need to have keys to access some of the places you mentioned. When I was a teenager, during the 70’s, I worked at the theatre and know of the places you mentioned. I didn’t care much for the pool area. After a few explorations, I only went in that part of the basement to turn on and off the steam. Since it hadn’t been in use for many years, the whole area was decrepit. I do remember murals on the walls but I don’t recall what they looked like. I thought it a dangerous area to be if you were by your self. It was obvious that people who had no business there frequented the pool area, perhaps for shelter, or maybe for other reasons. My dad told me when he was a teenager (early 1940’s) he would go swimming in the Moore’s pool.
It’s possible we crossed paths.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 17, 2007 at 6:53 am

The Moore’s history page, to which I posted a direct link on February 2, 2006, has been moved once again. This new link should work for a while.

vgg6534 on December 10, 2006 at 11:05 am

When I was a teenager in the mid-seventies, I worked at the Moore Theatre. I opened the theatre closed the theatre, cleaned the theatre, took tickets, and spent a fair amount of time exploring. Thereâ€\s a lot more to the Moore than meets the eye. In the auditorium, backstage, above and around the dome and underneath in the basement I came across some unusual situations. I don’t believe in ghosts, but on a couple of occasions, when the theatre was empty, there is no denying that my friend Robby and I saw some things in the foyer and on the mezzanine that could not be explained. I’m not sure why but to me the theatre seems to be older than the turn of the 19th century (1907).
By-the-way, most of the live shows at the Moore while I worked there were awesome, Billy Joel, Supertramp, Electric Light Orchestra, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Climax Blues Band, Golden Earring, Chaka Kahn and so many others, some of which whose names Iâ€\ll never remember. Not all the shows were great some were horrible. I think the two worst were the Strawbs and the New York Dolls. The movies ranged from the unusual (200 Motels, Rocky Horror) to disturbing (EL Topo) and downright awful (Eraserhead). For a teenager such as me, working at the Moore was a dream come true.
Thanks Ken

vaila on February 14, 2006 at 5:13 pm

There are a TON of ghost stories about this place. Everybody I ever knew who worked at this place (mostly in the early to mid 80’s, when it was mostly showing movies) had a story to tell. I remember when they started showing movies again in the 70’s – I must have been 8ish – the place was really run-down and spooky and you could run around anywhere – the basement pool with the creepy egyptian style murals (or did I just imagine that? Does anyone else remember that?), dark corridors leading to various balcony levels, including the concrete seats in the 3rd balcony that seemed so high you could hardly see the screen and box seats that seemed to be hidden from below… it was great.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 2, 2006 at 2:08 am

The second link posted by Lost Memory on May 25 2005 no longer works.

Here is the new Moore Theatre Home Page.

Here is the Moore Theatre History Page.

kencmcintyre on December 29, 2005 at 6:09 pm

There are some photos of this theater on this site. Enter theaters as a search term and browse the photos:

View link

GWaterman on December 26, 2005 at 4:43 pm

Cascadekid is right, the Moore Hotel has a swimming pool in the basement.

In addition to showing films, the Moore was Seattle’s touring house for legit theatre for some time, before the 5th AVenue and the Paramount were renovated and got into that business. The Moore is —– or was, in the 80’s & 90’s when I knew it —– a “hemp” house, meaning it used a ropes-and-sandbags flying system instead of a system using steel counterweights to raise and lower the curtains. At one point in the mid ‘80’s, a touring show —– was it “Elephant Man?” —– came through whose sets and lighting overtaxed the capacity of the flyrail. During the load-out, a substantial chunk of the flyrail was pulled out from an unbalanced load.

I know someone who claims the theatre is haunted; a former maintenance man told me there were scarey things that happened at night. Another person I know related a tale that he was working on the fly floor on one side of the stage, and looked across to the other side of the stage and saw someone looking at him. The apparition then turned and walked away —– only it walked through the brick wall and disappeared. OTOH, this was the 70’s and 80’s and my friend was tired and may have been chemically enhanced.