In my research so far for the Oregon Theater Project, I have run into several struggles and triumphs. After we were introduced to the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, I found myself beginning an exhaustive, online scavenger hunt. The Sanborn Maps website itself presents numerous challenges in that the website is not very user friendly. For instance, the window in which the map is featured only presents the map in a small square box and provides and zoom-in feature that only zooms in so far that the feature seems almost useless.
Construction, design, and features of theaters
Ashland has been the unexpected host of theater festivals and gatherings for decades in Oregon. A small town in southern Oregon that’s almost to the edge of California, it may not seem to have much to offer besides a few mom and pop shops and restaurants, but with a little digging one may find the history of its rich festival roots.
In the issue of the Oregon Daily Journal on February 22nd of 1914, the story of P.A. Marquam and his improvement on the Marquam Building from a $500 property to a million dollar building is written.
When the Bagdad Theatre opened on January 14th, 1927 in the Hawthorne District audiences were drawn to the theater by bright lights, live music, and street dancers. But, the most remarkable attraction to the theater was a life-sized camel prop that would have been in the entrance to the theater. Before the theater opened Carl Laemmle, the president of Universal Pictures Corporation, sent the camel to be used as the mascot for the theater.
Precautions and Prestige
Unfortunately the movie business was not always the safest or the most secure by any means in the early days of exhibition. Portland was by no means an exception to this trend and as time went on, it didn't take long for entrepreneurs to take preventative measures.
The Alta theater was located in Pendleton, Oregon. The theater was opened on September 6, 1913, and was made to accommodate the needs of viewers in response to those lacking said needs. It came equipped with extra space in the back so that late-comers would not be crowded together and a large number of people could sit comfortably and maneuver the theater with ease. The owner of the venue, C.E. Oliphant, was a civil engineer who had previously owned a successful theater and seemed to know the ins and outs of the business.