Although its opening date is still to be determined, the Burnside theater was anticipated within the news for several months before and during the building’s construction. Investor and owner A.C. Ruby spent roughly $50,000 (which is equal to about $1.2 million today) on constructing the three-story building, which would be built to include a few storefronts, as well as a hotel with 64 rooms above the would-be theater (1).
By November of 1914, the building had been completed, but the initial opening night for the Burnside theater is unclear; after news of its completion, the first time the theater gets mentioned in the Morning Oregonian and the Oregon Daily Journal is in December of 1914 for a Christmas benefit showcase (see ‘Promotional Strategies’ and ‘Programming’ under the Research section of this site) (2).
From the research currently gathered, general programming for the theater was like most during this time in the nineteen-teens, such as being one of several theaters listed in an ad for the 1914 motion-picture showcase of Exploits for Elaine (3). Popular showcases such as this one seem to be common for the theater so far, as in 1919 a similar ad for the motion-picture showcase of Bound & Gagged contained the theater in its listings (4).
Though information on the programming and promotion of the theater is rather scarce, there were a few interesting articles on the owners and managers of the theater. Found in the Oregon Daily Journal, George M. Harris -- the manager of the theater at the time -- was arrested for overcrowding the theater, allowing patrons to stand and crowd in the aisles which resulted in a major fire hazard and warrants for his arrest (5). In the end, Harris pleaded ‘not guilty’ and paid a fine of $25 (roughly $500 today). Prior to this event, Harris was also involved in a censorship controversy with the board of censors in July of 1915. The issue was primarily a “misunderstanding,” according to the article, where Harris had shown films that were created by ex-bandits George Sontag and Chris Evane, but was luckily let off with a warning (6).
Shortly after Harris’s incident involving the fire hazard and his near arrest, the Portland Amusement Company -- founded by H.C. Stevens -- took on the lease for the Burnside theater (7). Unfortunately, much after 1916, there are a few discrepancies in regards to the theater and its historical timeline. With very little ads and major gaps between managers and dates, it is still undetermined what precisely was often shown at the theater, and who was running it. According to the Portland city directory in 1931 (the final time the theater is mentioned in the city’s directory after this date), the final manager was Tony C. Ziccardi (8). Whether he was a manager under the ownership of the Portland Amusement Company is still uncertain; however, it instils a rough concept as to when the theater was no-longer up and running.