In my initial research about the Lyric Theater in Prineville, Oregon, I have found that its conception was very complicated. The history behind the theater in its first few years of operation is a bit confusing to follow, and sometimes dates seem to contradict each other. This confusion is exacerbated by the fact that the theater changed names and locations several times before settling on “The Lyric”.
The first mentions of the moving pictures coming to Prineville are in traveling shows and fairs as attractions. There are descriptions of the wonder of the pictures and their high tech nature. In 1908, it appears that Prineville got a stationary location for the moving pictures. There are descriptions of people attending the moving picture show up to six times per week. The show steadily developed throughout 1908, rearranging chairs and adding a piano.
Then, in 1909, Frank E. Brosius opened the Emporium Electric Moving Picture Show. I was unable to determine up until now whether this is a separate operation or just a rebranding of the already existing stationary picture show, but whatever the relation, the beginning of the Lyric’s history was occurring. After operating under the name “Emporium” for little under a year, L.C. Morgan bought the theater and had plans to move it to a new building under the name “Pictorium”. In 1908, the moving pictures were located in the “I.O.O.F. Building”, but Morgan had plans to move it to a lower floor of the new Maling Building.
My research has been difficult in this period of time in the theater’s conception. I have not been able to pinpoint when the theater went from the Emporium to the Pictorium, or whether it did actually move into the Maling Building. There is a clipping only a month after that relocation was announced that says the Pictorium will now be in the Glaze Building- I can’t tell yet if that is the same building or not. I have attached an image of where the theater was in 1913, which I assume is the same palace it was when it opened as the Lyric in 1912. Interestingly, that location is only one building over from the very first moving picture show in Prineville, in the I.O.O.F. building, which can also be seen in the attached image.
Again, less than a year later, the theater changed its name, opening up as The Lyric Theater on May 10th, 1912, according to a Variety article. My goal in my further research is to determine some interesting facts about the theater in the time from 1912 onwards, but also to discern some more specifics about what was going on from 1908-1912: where the theater was, and why it kept being renamed. I do know that L.C. Morgan kept the theater at least in its early years; he owned it throughout its three different names.
I am excited to find out more about this theater’s confusing birth and its continued livelihood as the Lyric.