Bandbox Theatre

717 West Sprague Avenue,
Spokane, WA 99201

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The Bandbox Theatre was formerly called the Clem Theatre when it was first listed in the Spokane Daily Chronicle in November of 1913. The Clem Theatre derived its name from owner Dr. Howard Clemmer, who later built the State Theatre, which is now known as the Bing Crosby Theatre.

On February 27, 1915 it was renamed the Class A Theatre. The building was damaged by fire in 1925 and after a remodeling it opened on September 12, 1925 as the Egyptian Theatre, operated by Ray Grombacher. In 1930 financial problems closed it for two years before it reopened and then closed again.

On September 2, 1933 it reopened as the newly redecorated Bandbox Theatre under management of John Happy and Waverly Lindsay. An advertisement in Spokane Daily Chronicle billed it as ‘The Theatre Unusual’. This could be because initially their program just consisted of short subjects and newsreels for its five-day a week operation. 200 patrons showed up the first night and sat in its completely new seats.

The Bandbox Theatre also screened films, from France and Germany that were probably ignored by the first-run houses. In February of 1934 they showed “M”, a subtitled German film that introduced Peter Lorre to American audiences. Their advertisement however had a warning to parents that the film would not be suitable for children. During the early-1950’s, films from England seemed to be popular at the Bandbox Theatre. In January of 1951 the citizens of Seattle got to see Alec Guinness for the first time in “Kind Hearts and Coronets”.

The bank-owned theatre closed in June of 1953 and there was scant information in the news for about 19 years. On February 16, 1972 the Spokane Spokesman-Review noted its impending demolition with a photograph and history. Today the Washington Bank and Trust occupies the site. The Film Daily Yearbook of 1943-45 lists it with 350 seats.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 1 comments)

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on May 14, 2012 at 7:45 am

Here is a picture of the theater as the Clem: View link

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