Oriental Theatre

828 SE Grand Avenue,
Portland, OR 97214

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Showing 1 - 25 of 28 comments

pdx66 on June 29, 2014 at 9:33 am

It is a unfortunate this theatre is gone. It is a favourite of many who saw it in person and through photographs by those who never did. It was a truly wild theatre architecturally. The problem with the Oriental was its location. It was built in anticipation of a business district that never really developed. I visited Portland again a few years ago and the Oriental’s original location is still something of an odd one given the layout of the area. Numerous theatres suffered from this situation and were the first to be torn down as result.

bobbyallen on December 31, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Well 87 years ago tonight Dec 31 1927 the glorious Oriental Theatre opened. It was a cold rainy windy night. With over 2,000 people in line to get a first look inside this masterpiece one of a kind theatre. With house Organist Glenn Shelley filling the night air with the sweat sounds of the Oriental’s Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ this truly proved to be a night that would be remembered for a very long time. I would also like to point out to folks that the Oriental Theatre’s Wurlitzer Pipe Organ was the very same Theatre Organ that was installed in the Organ Grinder Pizza Parlor that was open from 1973 threw 1996. The Wurlitzer was taken out of the Oriental before the theatre was torn down in early 1970.

paulnelson on November 7, 2013 at 4:34 pm

It is unbelievable that a theatre of this elaborate beauty would ever be torn down. More majestic and lovely than the famous Chinese in Los Angeles by far. It is in the same league as the 5th Avenue in Seattle. May have been even more spectacular. I never was able to actually see it in person.

bobbyallen on August 30, 2013 at 1:06 pm

There was a film made it 1970 titled Before The Dark. It is all about the Portland Oriental Theatre. A copy of the film was posted on youtube in early July of this year. This film is very rare!! I have been looking for this film for over 5 years and now here it is online!! Be sure to check it out!!

rivest266 on July 31, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Dec. 31st, 1927 grand opening ad is in the photo section for this theatre.

bobbyallen on August 3, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Dennis Hedberg spent many yrs taking care of the Wurlitzer Pipe Organ in the Oriental. Mr. Hedberg removed the Organ before the Oriental was razed in early 1970. You can find much more info on the Portland Organ Grinder web site were the Organ was installed from 1973 threw 1996. The Oriental Organ was enlarged from it’s original 13pipe ranks to 48 by the time the 1980’s came around. What a masterpiece this Wurlitzer was both serving the Oriental Theatre with it’s 13ranks to it’s time at the Portland Pizza Parlor entertaining folk’s nightly with it’s unmatched magical sound!!

howardhughes on December 31, 2010 at 11:43 pm

Well it’s dec 31, 2010. If the oriental was still with us she would be turning
83yrs old tonight!! There are still a few ranks of pipes from her wurlitzer
Theatre pipe organ that live on to this day.

howardhughes on October 11, 2010 at 6:58 pm

The oriental was truly one of a kind. In may & nov of 1967 the oriental theatre
And its mighty wurlitzer theatre pipe organ were out in the spot light when
Mr. George wright played to outstanding concert’s on the oriental’s wurlitzer
Pipe organ. George wright truly one of a kind in theatre organ history playing
At truly one of a kind theatre. If anyone out there was lucky enough to hear
One of these concert’s please share with us the magic of george at the oriental.

howardhughes on October 6, 2010 at 4:12 pm

The color pic posted by tc is very nice. What I hope to find is a color pic of
The grand lobby with the stairway and both dragons on both sides of the

CSWalczak on October 6, 2010 at 12:18 pm

There is one on the webpage posted by TC (see above) on February 17, 2005.

howardhughes on October 6, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Is there anyone out there that knows of any color pics of the inside of
The oriental theatre? It sure would be great to see this one of a kind
Theatre in color.

TLSLOEWS on February 28, 2010 at 11:09 am

Great pictures and history.

TheatreOrgan on May 29, 2009 at 2:26 am

LOST MEMORY! You get my vote for Member of the Year for ALWAYS, and I do mean ALWAYS, coming through with the best photo links. Thanks for being a member here and participating so wonderfully. Keep those ‘Theatre Organ’ photos coming in!

BhillH20 on October 12, 2008 at 4:25 pm

It’s been gone a long 38 years !!

kencmcintyre on October 3, 2006 at 1:08 pm

Here is a 1925 photo of the smoking room from the USC Archive. Suffice to say they don’t build theaters like this anymore:

ERD on December 24, 2005 at 4:05 am

This gives a bad reputation to Portland Oregon when it comes to preservation. A distinctive theatre like the Oriental should never have been destroyed. It is a cultural and historical loss. Where were Portland’s creative leaders when needed?

Suwanti on June 11, 2005 at 2:10 pm

It’s quite sad to learn that such beautiful theatre had been demolished to make way for a parking lot.

What a tragic news !

Raymond Lo/12th June,2005

Hibi on May 5, 2005 at 9:19 am

Thanks! That’s what happened.

Ziggy on May 5, 2005 at 9:17 am

Up in the corner, where it says “search”, type in “oriental theatre”, be sure to spell it “theatre” rather than “theater”. The first link on the list of links should be to 31 photos of the Portland Oriental.

Hibi on May 5, 2005 at 7:28 am

No pictures came up using that search.

teecee on May 5, 2005 at 6:37 am

Even more photos at this link:


type Portland oriental theatre in the search box
first listing will link you to 32 b&w photos

Hibi on February 17, 2005 at 8:39 am

Wow. What a theater. So sad.

teecee on February 17, 2005 at 7:57 am

Great photos at this link:
View link

JimRankin on October 11, 2004 at 5:22 am

The Portland ORIENTAL was certainly among the most imaginative movie palaces in the nation, and it is indeed a shame that it is gone, but we can relive much of it via the 28-page article about it in the “Marquee” magazine of First Qtr. 1987 where there are 31 black and white photos of it supported by the text of the Historic American Buildings Survey’s 32-page report: “The Oriental Theatre, Portland, Oregon” of 1969.

To obtain any available Back Issue of either “Marquee” or of its ANNUALS, simply go to the web site of the THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA at:
www.HistoricTheatres.org and notice on their first page the link “PUBLICATIONS: Back Issues List” and click on that and you will be taken to their listing where they also give ordering details. The “Marquee” magazine is 8-1/2x11 inches tall (‘portrait’) format, and the ANNUALS are also soft cover in the same size, but in the long (‘landscape’) format, and are anywhere from 26 to 40 pages. Should they indicate that a publication is Out Of Print, then it may still be possible to view it via Inter-Library Loan where you go to the librarian at any public or school library and ask them to locate which library has the item by using the Union List of Serials, and your library can then ask the other library to lend it to them for you to read or photocopy. [Photocopies of most THSA publications are available from University Microforms International (UMI), but their prices are exorbitant.]

Note: Most any photo in any of their publications may be had in large size by purchase; see their ARCHIVE link. You should realize that there was no color still photography in the 1920s, so few theatres were seen in color at that time except by means of hand tinted renderings or post cards, thus all the antique photos from the Society will be in black and white, but it is quite possible that the Society has later color images available; it is best to inquire of them.

Should you not be able to contact them via their web site, you may also contact their Executive Director via E-mail at:
Or you may reach them via phone or snail mail at:
Theatre Historical Soc. of America
152 N. York, 2nd Floor York Theatre Bldg.
Elmhurst, ILL. 60126-2806 (they are about 15 miles west of Chicago)

Phone: 630-782-1800 or via FAX at: 630-782-1802 (Monday through Friday, 9AM—4PM, CT)