Music Box Theatre

901 SW Alder Street,
Portland, OR 97205

Unfavorite 2 people favorited this theater

Showing 17 comments

Tinseltoes on July 18, 2012 at 6:36 am

This 1961 trade article describes the Music Box that has yet to receive a listing at Cinema Treasures: Boxoffice

HowardBHaas on February 21, 2012 at 8:19 am

Joe, thanks, the wrong photo has been removed as I sent in the request to the site masters.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 20, 2012 at 11:40 am

The photo currently displayed on this page depicts the later Music Box Theatre on Broadway, not the Music Box Theatre on Alder Street.

The November 2, 1929, issue of Motion Picture News had an article about the remodeling of the Peoples Theatre and its reopening as the Alder Theatre. The People’s Theatre opened in 1911, and was owned by J. J. Parker. The 1929 rebuilding was extensive, involving the complete reconstruction of the balcony in order to remove columns on the first floor, and the moving of the entrance from the front of the building to the corner of 9th and Alder.

The rebuilding project was designed by the architectural firm of Bennes & Herzog, the same firm that designed the Hollywood Theatre.

Douglas on June 16, 2010 at 12:59 am

It has been a long time since the error and confusion here has been identified. This is not the later Music Box Theatre, as corroborated by many above. Is there a way that another entry can be made for the later Music Box?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 13, 2010 at 9:58 pm

The address above is correct for an earlier Music Box, which operated in the Alder Street location from 1935 and probably through the 1950s. The Music Box on Broadway at Yamhill, which opened in late 1959 or early 1960, doesn’t yet have a page at Cinema Treasures.

Also here’s a correction to my comment of April 9, 2009. The last paragraph says that I thought the photo at the PSTOS web site was of Seattle, not Portland, but I now think it is indeed Portland, and it depicts an even earlier Music Box Theatre, listed at Cinema Treasures under its later name, the Liberty Theatre. That house was most likely the Music Box from the late 1920s until 1935, when the name was moved to this house, the former Alder Theatre.

jespdx on March 13, 2010 at 8:23 pm

The address listed is wrong. The Music Box was on Broadway at the corner of Yamhill street.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 19, 2010 at 8:38 am

The 1982 photo depicts the last Music Box Theatre in Portland, located on Broadway next door to the Fox Theatre. Gary Lacher and Steve Stone’s book “Theaters of Portland” says that there were six Portland theaters called the Music Box. I don’t think it has a page at Cinema Treasures yet.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 13, 2009 at 6:52 am

I just wanted to see if you were paying attention. LOL

Speaking of typos, the aka name should be Alder.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 12, 2009 at 5:11 pm

The aka should be Alder Theatre, like the tree the street was probably named after, not Adler.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 11, 2009 at 11:13 am

Good point. Okay, the aka names should be Adler Theatre and People’s Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 10, 2009 at 10:33 pm

There probably was supposed to be a comma between the names, but the addition of “Street” appears to have been an error as well.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 9, 2009 at 7:08 pm

The 1930 Film Daily lists this theater as the Alder Theatre with 930 seats. In 1935 it is listed as the Music Box Theatre with 900 seats. No Adler Theatre listed that year. I don’t think the Adler Street Music Box Theatre should be an aka name. I’m wondering if it isn’t a typo and was supposed to have a comma between the two names.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 9, 2009 at 6:55 pm

John Hamrick had a long association with the first Music Box Theatre in Portland, and Hamrick Theatres built the new Music Box on Broadway as well. The old Music Box was operated as the Alder Theatre by Fox West Coast’s Evergreen Theatres subsidiary from at least the late 1920s, until 1935. In that year the house came under Hamrick’s management as the result of a merger which created the Evergreen-Hamrick circuit.

It was probably then that it was renamed the Music Box Theatre, after Hamrick’s earlier Music Box in Seattle. When the various Fox circuits were forced to divest themselves of many theaters in the late 1940s, the combination was dissolved and the Music Box came entirely under the control of John Hamrick Theatres.

There’s a problem with the aka’s currently listed for this house. Aside from Cinema Treasures, I can’t find any references to it ever being called the Alder Street Music Box Theatre. The PSTOS page for the Music Box gives the aka Alder Street Theatre, but their page displays a 1929 postcard view of the house, and the theater’s sign hanging above the street simply says Alder Theatre.

The only pre-Music Box reference to the house I can find in Boxoffice Magazine is from a 1943 article about a fellow named George McMurphy, which lists the Alder (not Alder Street) among the Portland theaters he had managed for Fox West Coast in the early 1930s.

Also, visitors to the PSTOS Portland Music Box page should note that another ca.1920s postcard there, captioned “Broadway, looking South from Stark,” shows a theater with a vertical sign reading “John Hamrick’s Music Box Theatre.” I don’t think it’s a photo of Portland at all, but of Seattle.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 9, 2009 at 12:11 pm

The Music Box Theater is listed in the 1951 Film Daily at the address given above with 895 seats.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 9, 2009 at 11:39 am

Pictures and information about the organ are here.

rapidheart on May 30, 2004 at 6:06 pm

I worked at the Music Box on Broadway briefly. It was owned by Tom Moyer’s Luxury Theatre chain. It was right next to the Fox and about 2 blocks from The Broadway Quad. I remember the projectionist worked both the Music Box and Fox and would have a cigarette between jaunts to each theatre. The Music Box was a single screen.

Soesbe on May 25, 2004 at 5:41 pm

This is in error. There was an original Music Box in Portland that was later demolished. The original was once called the Peoples. The newer Music Box was built in 1959 and premiered with “Ben Hur.” It essentially replaced the Liberty, a few blocks to the north. Closing in 1989, it was always called the Music Box during its relatively brief thirty year period.