Known Years of Operation

Nov 21, 1918 - Jan 7, 1921

Number of Seats



Henry Harcke, George A. Hunt

Additional Facts

  • Formerly the Star

The Liberty theater worked to show films featuring big name stars and put out a high-culture image. It opened on during Thanksgiving week in 1918 in a space on Main Street in Medford formerly occupied by the Star theater.

The Liberty's advertising tended to focus on star quality, placing importance on the actors over the film itself. In most advertisements found for upcoming films the first thing or the largest thing on it would be the star or stars of films instead of the title. There is a trend of phrasing the byline to suggest that the actors are going to arrive and perform at the Liberty in person. There is also a focus on this being a modern and higher class environment featuring the most modern technology and the highest demand films.

Liberty theater opens in Nov. 1918
Medford Mail Tribune, Nov. 21, 1918, p. 3. Historic Oregon Newspapers.

When this theater opened it advertised the best equipment and music. There is an emphasis on exclusivity with their slogan “Where those who know will prefer to go” implying that certain aspects of the theater will only be known to those who are possibly worthy. They also hoped to draw in audiences by emphasizing the emerging Hollywood star system in a lengthy list of stars that would be featured in upcoming films at the Liberty.

The ad to the right predominantly features a headshot of the “charming prima donna” Dorothy Dalton, drawing in the public with the promise of being able to watch the victories of this lovely woman. With the title “Fatty Arbuckle At The Liberty” there is an implication that he will arrive in Medford and perform live at the Liberty. One has to read the rest of the article to realize that the event is only a film screening.

This is another film that works to bring in a more high-culture crowd. This time they advertise the name of the film as much as the star, given that Carmen is also the name of a popular opera, a pastime synonymous with high-culture.

Carmen at the Liberty, 1920
Medford Mail Tribune, June 11, 1920. Historic Oregon Newspapers.
Dorothy Dalton at the Liberty theater, 1919
Medford Mail Tribune, May 12, 1919. Historic Oregon Newspapers.

In order to bring in more children and therefore families the Liberty would host events like this at right. One thing of note in this clipping is the emphasis on the free viewing juxtaposed with the one cent war tax which was quite prevalent in Medford at the time. In order to supposedly keep prices low theaters would make sure to keep the war tax as a separate cost for movie tickets.

In early 1921 the below news item appeared in the Medford Mail Tribune announcing the theater would be closed indefinitely, but one more show appeared in the theater in February. By August of that year, ads in the local paper referred to the space as "the old Liberty theater."

Liberty theater closed, 1921
Medford Mail Tribune, January 7, 1921.


Free matinee show for kids at the Liberty, 1919
Medford Mail Tribune, Wednesday, April 9, 1919.
Last show at the Liberty, 1921
Medford Mail Tribune, Feb. 3, 1921, p. 3.
Old Liberty theater, 1921
Medford Mail Tribune, August 23, 1921, p. 3.