Known Years of Operation

Sep 25, 1923 - Present

Number of Seats



Partride and Morrison, Claude "Dude" Smith

Additional Facts

  • Huge fire in 1924, causing $35,000 worth of damage

On September 25, 1923, The Coliseum theater opened in Tillamook by the firm of Partridge & Morrison in the Beal Building in Tillamook, Oregon. The theater seated 750 people and was built by Frank Hyde, a local architect in the area, while B.F. Shearer Inc. of Seattle was in charge of the equipment, decoration, and lighting of the movie house(1). The theater was scheduled to open on August 15, but because of delays the opening of the theater was held officially on the 25th of September. A few years later in 1927, L.E. Partridge purchased the interest of his partner Morrison (2), and continued to run the theater by himself until 1934.

News Notes from the North West
Moving Picture World, 12 May 1923. p. 187-188. Media History Digital Library.

The Coliseum had a unique run as a movie house and held many exclusive events throughout its time as a popular theater in Tillamook. For example, in 1924 The Coliseum held a special program sponsored by the Kiwanis Club, during which the film Boy O’ Mine played on the night of May 14. The Kiwanis Club advertised that Anthony Euwer (humorist and Portland author) would also make an appearance and that there would be local entertainment in addition to the movie (3). The Coliseum also held meetings and conventions for groups like The Elks, who held their own meetings at the theater(4). The American Legion also arranged for a film to be played at the theater in observance of Armistice Day, which marked the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France on November 11, 1911. After the film was shown a dinner was put on by the Legion Auxiliary for veterans of war (5).

While the theater had many successes during its time as a successful movie house, there were also a few obstacles that The Tillamook Coliseum had to overcome. On July 4, 1924, it was reported that a fire broke out around 8pm in the basement of the building next to The Coliseum. The fire was only noticed because owner Morrison was headed into the basement when the fire started, and he immediately notified the fire department about the disaster. The theater was filled to capacity with all of the holiday visitors for the 4th of July, and panic began to fill the theater as the audience saw smoke coming from below the stage. Mr. Morrison quickly mounted the stage and told the audience that “a blaze had started in an adjoining building, that there was no immediate danger, and warned the audience to leave without disorder.” At that same time the organist, Merle Harrington, struck up a lively tune and continued to play while the audience left the theater until it was completely empty.

tillamook coliseum
Image Courtesy of Cinema Treasures

The blaze was believed to have started in a pile of rubbish that was sparked in the basement of the building next door. The firemen came as quickly as they could, but the blaze had already burned through to the second floor and extensive damage had been done . So extensive was the damage that the property loss of the theater was estimated at $35,000. Despite the extensive damage, however, The Coliseum was able to bounce back from the flames and continued to play films and hold special events for the community once the damage was repaired. After Partridge’s reign over The Coliseum for nearly 10 years, he decided to lease the theater/building to a gentlemen named Claude “Dude” Smith in 1934, and the theater continued to prosper with Smith running and managing the theater(6).

Works Cited

  • 1. “New Notes from the Northwest.” Moving Picture World, 12 May 1923, p. 187-188.

  •  2. “Portland, Ore.,” Moving Picture News, 19 August 1927, p. 536.


  • 3. “Club Books Boy Film,” The Sunday Oregonian, 27 April 1924, p. 4.


  • 4. “Fishing Trips Planned,” The Sunday Oregonian, 10 August 1924, p. 23.


  • 5. “The Citizen Veteran,” The Sunday Oregonian, 8 November 1925, p. 22.


  • 6. “News of the Day.” The Film Daily, 13 September 1934, p. 12.