The building the Bijou Art Cinemas calls home was originally opened built in 1925 and designed by the University of Oregon’s first Dean of Architecture W.R.B. Wilcox as a church. After serving the community as the First Congressional Church until it became the McGaffey and Andreason mortuary in 1956. Now the building is still operating in the for of the Bijou, an independent theater in Eugene, Oregon.
The theater was at one point owned by four partners, including current owner Julie Blonshteyn, along with another theater that was being expanded in a downtown location called the Broadway Metro. Tensions grew between Blonshteyn and one partner in particular which led to a legal battle, resulting in the separation of the two businesses. Now the Bijou and the Metro are owned and operated separately.
The Bijou has been in operation since opening in 1980 and has a focus screening foreign and art films. They have a loyal base of customers but aren’t very profitable, the main drive is to screen movies for the community. The theater came about in 1980 after the original founder Michael Lamont went around town screening films for the community and his friends told him he should open a theater. The Bijou has an unassuming façade, with little more than a small banner with the name and a small marquee with movie times making their business known. The lobby is flooded by red light from the stained glass windows, there’s a courtyard in the center, and only two auditoriums.