Balboa Theatre

2814 Wetmore Avenue,
Everett, WA 98201

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Balboa Theatre exterior

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened May 29, 1929 by Fox West Coast Theatres. Still operating under Fox West Coast Theatres in 1941, and closed May 3, 1953. It was converted into an expansion of the Bon March department store. In 2017 it is a Funko toy store.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on February 2, 2013 at 2:34 pm

The Balboa got the Wurlitzer pipe organ, opus 1339, a style B, 2 manuals 4 ranks in 1930. This was the organ originally installed at the Uptown Theatre in Seattle in 1926. The organ reportedly moved to a church in Oak Harbor Washington in 1941.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 21, 2013 at 3:24 pm

A section listing theater architects appeared in the October 25, 1930, issue of Exhibitors Herald World, and the Fox Theatre in Everett was listed as the work of Seattle architect William Aitken.

paulnelson
paulnelson on March 14, 2015 at 2:15 pm

Wonder if the original building still exists.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 14, 2015 at 5:51 pm

In the heading we have the Balboa listed as demolished, but I’m doubtful that it was. Today the address 2814 Wetmore belongs to Karl’s Bakery & Cafe, but that was not the building the theater was in. The second photo on the PSTOS page for the Balboa shows that the theater was in the building adjacent to the tall structure on the corner of California Street that was occupied by the Rumbaugh-MacLain Department Store.

The caption of this photo showing the Balboa’s lobby in 1929 says that the theater closed on May 12, 1953, and its building was taken over by the adjacent department store. The photo is from the Everett Public Library, probably a reliable source of information.

The department store and the theater’s site are now both occupied by Trinity Lutheran College. I think it’s very likely that the Balboa’s shell (probably including its roof) still exist, though the interior was undoubtedly converted to two floors and the old auditorium floor leveled by the department store. If it had a fly tower, that has been removed. The ramps and lack of doors and the shape of the ceiling in the lobby photo make me suspect that the Balboa had a section of stadium seating at the back of the auditorium. The department store would surely have torn all that out.

As Karl’s Bakery is at 2814 Wetmore, the theater’s address would have been a bit smaller, probably 2010-2012. The college, with its entrance in the former department store, uses the address 2802.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 25, 2017 at 7:31 pm

I believe that most of the Balboa Theatre building is still standing, though little, if any, of the theater remains intact inside the shell. The Balboa was built in conjunction with the adjacent Rumbaugh’s Department Store, on the corner of Wetmore Avenue and California Street. Rumbaugh’s was sold and re-branded as a Bon Marche store, a regional chain, in the 1940s. The Balboa closed in 1953 [May 3] and the department store expanded into the former theater space.

In 1994, three years after the Bon Marche closed, the building, under renovation and renamed the Port Gardner Building, was nominated for inclusion on Everett’s local historic registry. A document prepared at that time (PDF here) had a bit about the theater:

“During work on the building, remnants of the Balboa Theater were uncovered. On the south side of the building, these remnants had to be removed for seismic strengthening, but on the north wall the remnants have been preserved and could be restored.

“The Historical Commission recommended that there be administrative review for minor changes. Major changes would require Historical Commission review. The Commission also noted that they would like to see the remaining decoration from the Balboa Theater maintained. Any change to the interior that would remove or destroy the last remnants of the Balboa would have to be reviewed by the Commission.”

I don’t know if the surviving decorative elements of the Balboa have been preserved though the two decades plus since this report was written, but that the building itself is still standing, except perhaps for a small section at the southwest corner, as can be seen in Google’s satellite view, is pretty obvious.

For a number of years the entire complex was occupied by Trinity Lutheran College, but more recently (August, 2017, according to this article on their web site) an outfit called Funko (“Purveyors of Pop Culture”) has installed its headquarters and a retail store in the complex. Perhaps someone living in, or near, or visiting Everett can check the place out and see if those remnants of the Balboa’s decor that were still intact in 1994 have survived.

Seattleprojectionist
Seattleprojectionist on December 27, 2017 at 11:21 pm

I can confirm that the building still exists, occupied by Funko. The ground floor of the department store as well as the theatre is now a toy store. No trace of the theatre interior remains, everything has been covered by the Funko decor. I have to say that it is a very impressive toy store. I lived in Everett as a small child, the Balboa was closed by that time but I remember the Bon Marche store very well. Photos of the former Balboa interior and exterior will be added momentarily.

Brent Diamond
Brent Diamond on March 5, 2018 at 3:29 pm

I much appreciate everyone’s info on this location. I am the current property manager for the building known as Port Gardner, which we lease to Funko LLC for their headquarters and flagship retail store. I have photo documented the elements of the Balboa that were exposed in early 2017, and Everett’s Historical Commission viewed before it was covered again by a drop ceiling.

I’m currently documenting the history of both buildings, pulling from several sources, in consultation with local historians. Though “Port Gardner Building” was placed on the Everett Register of Historic Places in 1994, we hope to soon have the Balboa added by amendment so it can be independently recognized.

My goal for 2018 is to complete this historical narrative of both buildings, and mount side-by-side plaques outside the common wall. Stay Tuned!

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