Known Years of Operation

Apr 3, 1876 - Jan 1, 1913

Number of Seats




The Gem Theatre did exist at one point, and while finding any trace of it past 1913 was impossible, I found interesting history about The Gem from 1876 and 1913 respectively. 

From the Oregon Daily Journal in 1913 of April, there is an advertisement from the General Film Company on 7th St in Portland, providing a list of theatres it provides it's films for. Among these theatres two are named "The Gem", however I chose the one that already had a written address on the advertisement. 

What was interesting however was the type of theatre that the Gem was, and that is a photo-play theatre. A photo-play theatre is one that shows true theatre that was filmed and released as a "film". This is an interesting mix of cinema, vaudeville, and true theatre. This was, in my opinion, probably chosen as a way to draw various audiences since film was so new and many were unsure of its success. 

Throughout the research process, I found no traces of this theatre advertising it's programming, and pricing. Much like my last theatre, the Novelty, there is almost no trace of this theatre existing besides snippets here and there. However, with the Gem theatre, understanding the novelty that it only showed photo-plays, gave me knowledge that this theatre probably did not make much money here in the city of Portland. 

The most difficult about this research project specifically was finding another popular theatre in Portland, Maine. This was an island and is popular as a tourist attraction, about a century ago, this theatre would show both live theatre and films. 

ODJ General Film Comapny
Gem Theatre Location, and what films it showed in 1913



Fireborn map
This is the Sanborn Firemap 1909 Volume 7 of downtown Portland that shows where the Gem Theatre would have resided. What is interesting about this area, and as you can see yourself, is that the key does not show any theatre whatsoever, but it does say it is a dwelling

Works Cited

  • Oregon Historical Society, Accessed Feb 22 2020

    Oregon Daily Journal April 03 1913 Page 33

    Sanborn Fire Maps 1909 Volume 2