The $125,000 theater opened in downtown Portland in 1913, where it quickly became a hot spot for all shorts of films. With over 1,200 seats the large theater was in every way extravagant. The theater was designed by two architects from Seattle, they outlined the exterior of the theater in white colored brick with over 2500 electric lights that illuminated the theater day and night.
When one would walk down Sixth avenue they would be blown away by the architecture and the extravagance of the theater. Not only was the outside decor itself excellent, but when one would open the doors they would see the beauty held inside.
The interior of the building was filled with all kinds of flowers. According to one society reporter the interior of the theater “was like a veritable garden of blossoms.” The walls were covered with different paintings and the windows were draped with silk.
Once in the theater itself, one author wrote in the Morning Oregonian, in June 1913, that “the seats are great wide, roomy, comfy leather chairs, with plenty of room to stretch one's legs or let people pass without getting up and spilling your lap full or hat on to the floor”
The programming was known to be one of the best around, being home to the photophone. With roughly 8 different films played throughout the week, an Orchestra to play, and different guest entertainers. The theater was also known for the well dressed ushers, or what they called usherettes, and the well done advertisements in the local newspapers that caught the attention of their audience.
Pricing for the theater varied:
Balcony 15c ‘Till 6 PM - Weekdays
Balcony 15c ‘Till 1 PM - Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays
Lower Floor 25c All Times
To 10 Years - All Times 10c
To 15 Years - All Times 15c
The Columbia Theater was known as the “Spacious Motion Picture Temple” that was ready to host hundreds.