Known Years of Operation

Jan 1, 1912 - Dec 31, 1927

Number of Seats



Conrad LeBlanc, George C. Maple, H.C. Phelps, H.C. Phillips, C.E. Yeager

Additional Facts

  • Now a photography and design studio

The Ideal Theater was built and designed in 1912 by Emil Schachts & Sons and commissioned by the original owner, Conrad LeBlanc. By the end of 1912, the theater opened for business as a silent movie house and was extremely popular for its small neighborhood feel with only 300 seats (8). The Ideal Theater used extensive advertising in newspapers around Portland to spread the news of their exquisite theater. For example, in The Oregon Daily Journal, the Ideal Theater advertised its movie house as having some of the best lighting and seating in Portland, “giving each person in the audience an equal chance to hear and see”(1).

Ideal Theater in 1912
The Ideal Theater, Image Courtesy of Cinema Treasures.

Unfortunately, the Ideal Theater did not remain in the best shape and did not have the best of luck. In May of 1918 the Ideal Theater experienced a fire in the projection room as a result of a film reel breaking during the middle of a film (2). Luckily, however, W.H. Meyers, the film operator, was in the room and was able to put it out without major damage. Then in January of 1922 the Ideal Theater was involved in a burglary and was robbed of some of its precious equipment and films (3). Some of the more valuable pieces were, however, recovered after two boys confessed to the burglary.

While the Ideal theater did experience many setbacks, it also was very successful in bringing in popular movies and always filling the seats of its theater for any show, through its advertising in both the local and larger newspapers. For example, in August of 1915 an ad was placed in The Oregon Daily Journal for the film The Diamond in the Sky, by Roy McCardell, claiming the film was “a remarkable achievement in motion picture art (4).” Another ad was placed in The Oregon Daily Journal in January of 1917 for the film Pearl Of the Army, which was directed by Edward José (5). Then in March of 1922 an exquisite ad was placed in The Oregon Daily Journal (6) for Paramount Picture’s 10th anniversary, letting the public know that Paramount would be playing their best films at certain theaters in Portland, and that the Ideal Theater would be one of those. The Ideal theater also dabbled in putting on benefits at the theater, and on March 17 of 1915 the theater "ran a set of highly entertaining films for the benefit of the Chapman School." The money from the night was put in a fund at the disposal of the parent teacher association for them to use towards the school and the night was a smashing success (7).

After its opening in 1912, the Ideal Theater continued to flourish. In 1927, remodeling construction began on the theater. The theater’s facade was remodeled to give it a nicer look, and the entry room’s ceiling was vaulted so the theater would be able to add a sound film projection booth. Right after this remodel, however, in 1927 the theater’s name was changed to the Senate Theater, and the name Ideal Theater was never to be seen again. However, The Senate theater only lasted for a few years before its name was changed again to The Bluebird theater in 1930. 

Ideal Theater in 1912
The Ideal Theater, Image courtesy of Cinema Treasures.


Works Cited

  • 1. Winner, Vella. “Club Activities.” The Oregon Daily Journal, 5 Apr. 1915, pp. 6–6.

  • 2. “Theater Fire Is Contained to Film Room, Preventing a Panic.” The Oregon Daily Journal, 15 May 1918, p. 11.

  • 3. “Two Boys Confess Four Burglaries: Recover Property.” The Oregon Daily Journal, 17 Jan. 1922, p. 18.

  • 4. “The Diamond From the Sky.” The Oregon Daily Journal, 2 Aug. 1915, p. 2.

  • 5. “The Man of the Hour Ralph Kellard.” The Oregon Daily Journal, 3 Jan. 10917, p. 4.

  • 6. “Paramounts 10th Anniversary.” The Oregon Sunday Journal, 5 Mar. 1922, p. 47.

  • 7. "Chapman School." The Sunday Oregonian, 28 Mar. 1915, p. 6.

  • 8. Portland City Directory, 1913.