Lewis and Clark Theatre

15820 Pacific Highway South,
Tukwila, WA 98188

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Lewis & Clark Bowl & Grill Alley Mural by Jerome Perry

Located in Tukwila, to the south of Seattle, and close to Seattle Airport. Opened in 1957, this theater is part of an entertainment complex that has a now-closed 32 lane bowling alley and cafe. The theater appears to have been one screen originally with its balcony divided into two auditoriums of maybe 300 seats each. The main auditorium still has maybe 1,000 seats or more. An additional hallway with four auditoriums, two approximately 400 seats and two approximately 200 seats, was later added. The main auditorium(#1) has murals by decorator Anthony B. Heinsbergen, depicting Lewis, Clark, and Native Americans filling the side walls.

Currently, it is fairly well kept up even though its business is slow. It was one of the first I know of in the area to advertise SDDS sound. It had a huge parking lot that is now being made into airport parking.

An interesting note is that a former major highway, Military Road, ends in the theater’s parking lot due to the re-routing of the road with the construction of a section of freeway adjacent to the theatre probably in the 1970’s.

The Lewis and Clark Theatre was closed by Cineplex-Odeon in January of 2004, and briefly served as a church until it was demolished in 2005.

Contributed by ladanae

Recent comments (view all 35 comments)

jmsazboy on July 6, 2009 at 2:57 am

Joe, great pictures!! I worked there from 1986 off and on until 1993. Was great to flash back, even though the changed it since I had worked there last.

Was great to remember a time when my whole life was still in front of me.

Had a great time there.

Thanks again!!

ajsloan on July 6, 2009 at 5:08 am

Matt, Do you remember Greg? It would have been around 1986.

markinthedark on July 6, 2009 at 8:24 pm

Moviefone still lists the theatre? Its been closed for a while…

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 6, 2010 at 9:31 pm

A pre-renovation photo of the auditorium of the Lewis And Clark Theatre can be seen on this page of Boxoffice, June 8, 1957 (upper right corner.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 25, 2010 at 12:57 am

Here are the additional photos of the Lewis and Clark in Boxoffice, October 19, 1957. LThe project’s ead architect, John Graham Jr., also designed the Northgate Theatre in Seattle for the Sterling circuit.

ColinMarcoe on June 3, 2010 at 4:03 pm

What GREAT photos from cinematreasures!! I had almost forgotten what that main auditorium and those murals looked like! It was huge! I actually saw my first R-rated movie there, “Blazing Saddles” in the mid-70’s. And for a period in the late 70’s they ran “Rocky Horror” at midnight on Fridays & Sats in Auditorum 3.

ColinMarcoe on June 8, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Oops, I meant “What great photos from CinemaTOUR”!

rivest266 on January 21, 2012 at 8:54 am

Grand opening ads from November 20th, 1956 and December 16th, 1982 (as 7-plex) posted in the photo section.

Parillamilt on August 17, 2012 at 5:05 pm

This complex was a monster. Saw 2001 and Patton here when it was just a single theater. The bowling alley was huge.

bubbabear64 on March 19, 2014 at 4:01 pm

An elegant movie theater built at a time when Sterling made grand theaters in the suburbs to replace the declining use of city theaters as well as smaller neighborhood theaters due to the increase of television use. Not only did the theater provide swinging seats, but the balcony had a reserved section in the first few rows used for people that came in late to the movie so that they didn’t cause that much of a distraction (even though the area was supervised by ushers and swinging gates. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was the first movie I saw in the theater. I still remember the original glass enclosed box office. It went away when the 1982 remodel was finished.

The bowling alley was just as elegant as the movie theater was. It was built in 1960 and it used the white Brunswick design with the dual lane configuration that was known for it’s artistic design for the time as demonstrated in this You Tube video: http://youtu.be/53V5S5Bd2KA. It wasn’t upgraded to the 2000 automatic scoring system until the 1980s. They still kept the same design to the lanes (they didn’t switch to the current style or the color organ version). During the 1990s, the lanes were shut down. It was done about the same time that SRO took over Sports World Bowling Alley in Federal Way to keep it running as a recreation center (it had about the same number of lanes as well as a bar, racquetball, and a dance floor built in 1977).

By the time the 1970s came, many factors didn’t work in the theaters favor including: Expansion of SR518 (an additional theater sign was added off of the freeway since the large sign wasn’t visible anymore), additional multiplex theaters in Tukwila and Renton (including the original single screen, Southcenter Theater SRO owned), elimination of neighborhoods in the immediate area (due to aircraft noise and expansion of the airport), and prostitution/drug activity (even though the WSP had a field office on the corner).

During the 1980s, the crime continued. With Gary Ridgeway driving his truck in this strip of 99 couldn’t have been favorable to business. By the 1990s, violence happened in the parking lot after a few movie openings scheduled on the site along with cars being broken into, didn’t make the place a very safe environment to take the family to the movies or bowling anymore. The last movie I saw in the theater was Star Trek 6 on opening night (12/7/91).

With the addition to the Sound Transit light rail terminal in Tukwila, this theater would have been in a bad location and with it’s outdated design, it couldn’t have competed with other multiplex theaters around the Tukwila/Renton area effectively. Now that AMC owns the theater chain, their interest has been keeping movie theaters running in malls and shopping centers which they have a major presence of in the area.

It’s nice to see that the property has been integrated into airport use to prevent the car rental companies from typing up the second floor of the airport parking garage.

I wish I had some photos of the bowling alley when I was learning to bowl in there. They don’t build them like that anymore.

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