Known Years of Operation

Jan 1, 1915 - Apr 1, 1918

Number of Seats




The Aurora Theatre, located on Liberty Street “near the telephone office,” was one of Oregon’s last rural nickelodeons. The theater was known to show live plays and other acts accompanied by short films, as many nickelodeons did at the time. The theater had Sunday showings that were exclusively devoted to serials and short films. The programming featured seven reel installments which included serials like Lucille Love, the Girl of Mystery (1914), which was Universal Pictures’ first serial production. The Aurora would choose one serial and play it consecutively; showing one episode a week. This strategy catered to the local audience who routinely came to follow the serial stories. This was probably the only viable strategy for film exhibition in such a small town, as it would have been too expensive to show feature-length films. The Aurora Theatre often encouraged entire families to come to see the shows in the local Aurora Observer newspaper, and conveniently hosted showings right after worship at the Presbyterian Church.

Although documentation is sparse, the Aurora Theatre was only open for a short time from late 1915 to sometime in 1918; the last mention of the theater by name in the Aurora Observer appeared on Mar. 21, 1918. For a town with a population in the low hundreds at the time, Aurora played host to two theaters, one being the Aurora and the other being Sim’s Theatre (which had a similar lifespan to the Aurora). The Sim’s Theatre had different programming but followed the same model as the Aurora. Presumably, competition between the two theaters led to their collective demise.

Aurora Observer, Sept. 21, 1916. Oregon Historic Newspapers.
Theater Area
Digital Sanborn Fire Map, April 1922. It is unclear which building was the Aurora Theatre, however, this is the area in which it would have stood.
John, Finn. Offbeat Oregon History, Oct 2, 2011. – Downtown Aurora in 1910 for reference.