The Egyptian Theatre opened on November 19th, 1925 in Coos Bay, Oregon (called Marshfield until 1944) in a building that was previously The Motor Inn Garage and Service Station1. The building was built in 1922 by contractor John Granstrom for Harry C. Noble and H.J. Clark2. When they built the building, they had always intended to convert it into a theater, likely when building restrictions at the time were changed1. In 1925, the building was converted by architect Lee Arden Thomas and designer Carl F. Berg for Noble and Clark to reopen as a movie theater2. When the conversion was announced the name was anticipated to be ‘The Marsden’ after one of the owners Robert Marsden, but eventually got the name The Egyptian when the themed decorations were decided upon1.
The building’s conversion to a theater was a major undertaking, involving the installation of theater seating, decorating the theater in Egyptian décor, installing the projection system and organ, and hanging the Egyptian signage. The hanging flasher sign over the street cost a reported $2500 and was intended to be a central focus of the busy Broadway Street3. Inside the theater a projection booth and stage were added, as well as a balcony and an incline to the floor of the lower level2. The auditorium seats are mahogany wood, some are covered in green velour and some in red leather, that were installed by B.F. Shearer for a cost of $11,0004. In addition to the seats, the carpeting, drapery, and lighting fixtures were designed for the theater and were sourced from all over the country2. In the projection room, they installed two new Simplex Projection Machines that use Peerless Low Intensity Arc Lamps, as well as a double dissolving stereoptican to project effects for the vaudeville, spotlights, and numerous house lights5. It was announced that A. E. McDuffee would be in charge of the projection and Rex Stratton would be the organist5,6. The organ is a Wurlitzer-Hope Jones Unit Orchestra Organ that was shipped to Oregon in fifty crates and can recreate the sound of numerous instrument simultaneously so it sounds like a complete orchestra6.
The theater’s opening night was a major event attended by guests from all over the state, adding up to about 2250 people, so some people were turned away from the theater because both shows had reached capacity7. The theater also hosted a turkey dinner that lasted into the late night for the family and friends of the people who had worked to open the theater7. The opening night vaudeville included a jazz musical comedy, contortionists, and a mixture of other musical and comedy acts8. The opening film program featured Graustark, and later in the week The Pony Express and Bobbed Hair, and on Wednesday and Thursday of the first week will also include a newsreel8.
In the summer of 1928 the theater announced that they would be adding the equipment for sound9. The theater installed Movietone and Vitaphone equipment, which had been ordered 8 months prior. The opening feature was “The Home Towners” from Warner Brothers, with many others including “The Jazz Singer” being shown in the next weeks10.