Known Years of Operation

Jun 7, 1913 - Oct 25, 1921

Number of Seats

450

Owner/Managers

W. C. Sellmer, E. A. Hartman

The date of the Grand theater's opening is unknown. The earliest found newspaper article, that references the Grand theater, is the June 7th, 1913 edition of Moving Picture World. The article states that the Grand theater is the furthest west photoplay house in the US, that the theater is steam heated, has a seating capacity of 450, and that the Grand had quite a large stage (1). The article, also, mentions that no vaudeville has been shown for a "long time" (1), which gives the implications that the theater has been open for sometime before this article was published, even though this article was the earliest found piece of evidence of this theater. This means that theater more than likely opened before 1913. 

Moving Picture World, Jun. 7, 1913, p. 1016. Media History Digital Library.
Moving Picture World, Jun. 7, 1913, p. 1016. Media History Digital Library.

The Grand theater's earliest found owner/manager was W. C. Sellmer (1). According to the Bandon Recorder, Sellmer made renovations to the theater in September of 1914; Sellmer removed the old proscenium arch, the arch above the screen, and added in two Doric pillars, this was done so that the screen could be placed at the rear of the stage, thus giving a better view of the screen (2). The next owner, E. A. Hartman, purchased the Grand theater from W. C. Sellmer on March 23, 1918 (3). E. A. Hartman was a woman entrepreneur, and a prolific theater owner, in the Bandon area. She owned most, if not all, of the theaters in Bandon, including the Orpheum theater, the Bandon theater, and the Hartman theater (4) (5). 

E. A. Hartman has a monopoly on the theaters in Bandon
Moving Picture World, Mar. 23, 1918, p. 1699. Media History Digital Library.

 

E. A. Hartman owned the theater for three years until October 25th, 1921 when, according to the Morning Oregonian, the Grand theater caught fire and caused over $20,000, almost $300,000 in today's money, in damage (6). The fire was able to be stopped, before it spread to other buildings, but the damage was done to the Grand theater, causing the theater to be put out of business on October 25th, 1921. 

The Grand theater burns down
The Morning Oregonian, Oct. 26, 1921, p. 4. Newsbank Database.

The Grand Theater had many film advertisements on display in the Bandon Recorder. The Grand theater featured films such as Esmeralda, which starred Mary Pickford (7), A Woman's Resurrection, a film from William Fox (8), and The Last Days of Pompeii, which was a six-reel extravaganza (9). The prices for these films ranged from 5 cents to 25 cents. The prices varied depending on age range, kids under ten paid less, and what type of film was playing, a larger scale film cost more to see. 

Films appeared to be the Grand theater's focal point in exhibition but they also exhibited differing vaudeville acts, as well. The Bandon Recorder had an article which stated that a vaudeville duo, Dale and Long, was appearing at the Grand theater. The duo would put on dances, do comic monologues, and sing songs (10). The Bandon Recorder, also, had an article which mentions a strongman show that was performed at the Grand theater. Jim Wilson and Smiling Dutch performed eye opening feats of strength, which showed off the duos perfect control of their bodies (11).

Even with the Grand theaters copious amounts of advertisements, the Grand didn't think that it was necessary to put their address in any of their ads. This was, more than likely, because Bandon is a very small town, meaning that the population of Bandon, would have already known where the theater was located. The address was only able to be found by referencing the Sanborn fire insurance map (12). 

The Sanborn fire insurance map doesn't specifically list the Grand theater on the map but instead lists the building as a moving picture house (12). However, this building is also listed as a I.O.O.F Hall. This abbreviation stands for Independent Order of Odd Fellows and according to the article in the Morning Oregonian the Grand theater had the Odd Fellows hall inside of the theater's building (6). So, it can be assumed that this is the correct Sanborn map for this building.

Works Cited

  • 1. Moving Picture World, Jun. 7, 1913, p. 1016. Media History Digital Library.

  • 2. "Improvements Made at Grand Theatre," The Bandon Recorder, Sep. 11, 1914, p. 1. Historic Oregon Newspapers.

  • 3. "Mrs. Hartman Controls in Bandon," Moving Picture World, Mar. 23, 1918, p. 1699. Media History Digital Library. 

  • 4. "Bandon Theater to Reopen," Moving Picture World, Jul. 14, 1917, p. 284. Media History Digital Library.

  • 5. Moving Picture World, Aug. 18, 1923, p. 555. Media History Digital Library.

  • 6. "Bandon Theater Burns," The Morning Oregonian, Oct. 26, 1921, p. 4. Newsbank Database.

  • 7. The Grand Theater advertisement, The Bandon Recorder, Mar. 28, 1916, p. 5. Historic Oregon Newspapers.

  • 8. The Grand Theater advertisement, The Bandon Recorder, Dec. 21, 1915, p. 3. Historic Oregon Newspapers. 

  • 9. The Grand Theater advertisement, The Bandon Recorder, Feb. 20, 1914, p. 3. Historic Oregon Newspapers. 

  • 10. "Pantages Vaudeville Act at the Grand Theater," The Bandon Recorder, Feb. 5, 1915, p. 1. Historic Oregon Newspapers. 

  • 11. "Exhibit Muscular Development," The Bandon Recorder, Oct. 12, 1915, p. 1. Historic Oregon Newspapers.

  • 12. Bandon Grand Theater Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, Aug. 1915. Digital Sanborn Maps.