Hollywood Theatre

4122 NE Sandy Boulevard,
Portland, OR 97212

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Homeboy on October 26, 2015 at 9:30 pm

Excerpt from “Security Signs Revives Historic Theater With New Marquee” which appeared in the October 2015 issue of Signs of the Times.

Hollywood Theatre is an historic theater that was built in downtown Portland’s southeastern section, known as the Hollywood District. This ornate, beautiful theater, located at 4122 NE Sandy Blvd., opened in 1926. There are no known photos of the original marquee; to our knowledge, only a drawing of it exists.

The theater’s management updated the Hollywood’s marquee during the 1970s in an effort to “modernize” the theater and help it compete with mushrooming, multi-screen “cineplex” chains. The marquee remained operational, but deteriorated to the point of ugliness. And, according to Doug Whyte, the Hollywood Theatre Foundation’s executive director, the revised marquee didn’t mesh well with the building. Consequently, they sought a design inspired by the original 1926 marquee. Several streets converge at this location, so the theater enjoys high visibility. However, from a project-management perspective, this presented problems. Also, a new building had been constructed next to the theater, which further complicated matters.

Kevin Hallwyler, Security’s project manager for the job, learned of the marquee revitalization during its early planning stages, and established a relationship with Whyte. Hallwyler’s frequent communication, plus Security’s longstanding local stature, helped our bid be successful.

Fernando Duarte Design (Sacramento, CA), known for crafting marquee-restoration plans, designed the reimagined Hollywood Theatre façade. Other high-profile Duarte jobs include the legendary Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, CA. The Hollywood received several renovations, but anticipation was high for the marquee’s rejuvenation.

Complete article with pictures here.

pdx66 on June 7, 2015 at 1:42 pm

Paint and tri-plexing altered the Hollywood so much over the years that to do an authentic restoration of the facility will most likely not happen, given the current owners. This being due to costs of refurbishment, current economic realities in the performance facility demographics and operating costs of Portland and the desired use of the building today. Much like the ex-Paramount, the Hollywood’s elabourate 1920’s charm resides outside of the auditorium side of the building. Given its location, and the costs and labour required for authentic restoration, the Hollywood in many ways is probably gone forever. Only the Bagdad and Elsinore Theatre in Salem approach what could be called “authentic” restorations. The Elsinore was well-preserved over the years before being worked over and the Bagdad was not a terribly ambitious project when it was built. With all due respect, $100,000 in 1927 would have been considered an “economy-priced” theatre, given it’s size. Indeed, the comparably-sized Elsinore and Capitol Theatres in Salem and Portland’s Hollywood Theatre came in with price tags hovering in the $250,000-plus range.

Gary Lacher and Steve Stone wrote a book called The Theatres of Portland which has a number of good photos of the Hollywood—inside and out. Some of us who remember these places from many years ago find the book at once fascinating, but also painful because what does survive in Portland is very little. However, once one realises that these places are usually—no matter what city they are in—titanic projects, then we must be thankful for what little we have left—which I am. At least a few of the more important buildings survive. If economics ever dictate that these places can be restored to their former glory, the foundation and “canvas” upon which to do it are still there.

Giles on March 23, 2015 at 1:58 pm

did anyone check out last weekend’s 70mm screening of ‘2001’ ?

Mikeyisirish on June 26, 2012 at 9:58 am

A few photos can be seen here, here and here.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on May 24, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Does the main theatre still have its CINERAMA Screen?

canibfrankwithyou on September 21, 2011 at 10:51 am

One of my coleagues and I drove non stop from Toledo Ohio in the mid 70’s to deliver the new projection equipment for the triplexing of the theatre. Two sets of “EPRAD” SWORD Systems were installed to accomodate the twinning of the balcony level. The new projectors were designed to provide fully automated operation of the film presention.

kaydee22 on January 11, 2011 at 6:50 pm

I worked as an “usherette” along with my girlfriends who went to high school at both Marycrest High School (now the Western States Orthopedic College) and US Grant High School, in 1966-1967. Quite the memories. Wearing a replica race car driver helmet while seating patrons to watch Steve McQueen in ‘Grand Prix’ for example. Balcony duty for more than 2 months while the Sound of Music ran for record crowds. Cleaning the popcorn machine, etc. etc. It was quite the instituation back in the 1960’s and should be preserved as what the theatres were at that time as well, not just when it was first built. Part of a true Americana, much like the Alberta Theater where we watched Ma & Pa Kettle on Saturdays for 25cents!

spectrum on December 10, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Don’t know how far they’ve gotten with the renovation, but the outside has been nicely redone – all painted white with trim, kind of a stucco design. / mission revival. Strange feature about this theatre, the auditorium extends straigh back from the street, but the main facade/marquee is on the corner of the building, despite all the street frontagethe building has. The foyer/mezzanine simply backs up against the sidewalk. Looks like they pushed that right up to the sidewalk to extend the auditorium and the only place to put the entrance was on the corner under the curved marquee (which is flat against the building). Interesting effect and I’m glad they’ve been making progress on restoration.

kencmcintyre on November 30, 2008 at 2:32 pm

Here is a 1956 photo from Life Magazine:

William on September 17, 2008 at 10:07 am

In some of the 1980 vintage shots of the vertical sign you can still see the neon tubing from it’s Cinerama days.

William on September 17, 2008 at 9:52 am

That link did not work.

philbertgray on September 17, 2008 at 9:43 am

Daggnabbit I forgot the link – sorry, here it is

View link

philbertgray on September 17, 2008 at 9:42 am

This photo was taken in the lobby during a filmmakers event. Looks like the wall shape and chandeliers are the same. The walls have probably been painted.

castor801 on November 1, 2007 at 11:41 pm

The building immediately west of the Hollywood burned down in a spectacular blaze back in 1997. A good friend of mine who worked for Portland Fire at the time was one of the first responding and helped save this great place. I remember seeing news footage of firefighters in the balcany lobby at 5 a.m. laying hoselines to project water out the windows onto the exterior walls and prevent it from developing into an exposure fire. Recently when I have driven by the theatre I have noticed the empty lot next door where that building once stood, and how dangerously close it did stand, and thanked God for the efforts of Portland’s bravest!

I had the privilage of seeing “Return Of The Jedi” originally in one of the balcony auditoriums, which along with “E.T” and “Ghostbusters” are my earliest film going memories, although the first is the only one I saw at the Hollywood. In 1990 my parents drug me to see a double feature of “Always” and “Steele Magnolias” in one of the balcony auditoriums with them. I recall it vividly because “Look Who’s Talking” was playing in the opposite balcony auditorium at the time and I would have preferred to see that and meet them afterward. The most recent film I have seen at the Hollywood was “Party Monster.” This is a great theatre, but you often have to act quick if you want to see a film there because they typically last only a week and then move on. Hence, the sad fact that it has been three years since I have been there. That is no excuse though. If you are a fan of cinema treasures and are in Portland ever, do yourself a favor and pay a visit!

HowardBHaas on September 25, 2007 at 5:23 pm

It is easy to visit the Internet site from Philadelphia. I’ve never been to Oregon or Washington, but eventually….

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on September 25, 2007 at 5:18 pm

Many thanks Howard… maybe I’ll see you there?

HowardBHaas on September 25, 2007 at 4:24 pm

It would appear balcony was split up:

The website says:
The Hollywood Theatre became a mecca for film-goers in the early 1960s when it became the only Cinerama theater in Oregon. Portions of the building – especially the frame of the massive curved screen in the downstairs auditorium – are a testament to that time.

and also says:

The main floor auditorium seats 460 (35mm/16mm/DLP/live performance).
The upstairs west auditorium seats 171 (35mm/16mm/DLP/live performance).
The upstairs east auditorium seats 219 (35mm only)
The Mezzanine lobby can accommodate up to 125 comfortably for a reception(depending on table set-up)

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on August 28, 2007 at 5:47 pm

I see the Broadway is listed as “triplex” but wonder if the main auditorium is still in tact and the balcony was twinned?

GaryParks on April 15, 2007 at 8:11 pm

My wife and I enjoyed seeing “The Lives of Others” at the Hollywood week-before-last. The exterior is looking really nice. The Fifties-style marquee still does its job in a tawdry way, but the rest of the exterior is painted nicely, and the newly repainted and relamped vertical sign is an animated stunner! It’s a wonderful thing that is happening at the Hollywood. Though clearly there is much work to be done, much has already been accomplished. If I lived in or near Portland, I’d get involved in it!

hollywooder on July 26, 2006 at 8:49 pm

Jensen – Would you be willing to contact the people at the Hollywood Theater? We’re starting the campaign to restore the building and would love to hear more about the history about the theater and your grandfather’s contribution to one of the great landmarks in Portland.

mejens30 on July 20, 2006 at 10:18 am


mejens30 on July 20, 2006 at 10:17 am