Known Years of Operation

Apr 1, 1925 - Jan 1, 2021

Number of Seats



Steve Willitt

After a horrible fire in 1922 that destroyed nearly 30 downtown block of Astoria Oregon, they began to rebuild, and the centerpiece was the Astoria Building complex that contained offices, stores, dance studios, and the Liberty Theatre(1). The exact date in April of 1925 for the grand opening is unknown, however there are some gaps in the information for Astoria. It can be speculated that this theatre was alive before the fire however more research would have to be done to find out if that is true. The theatre was built by the firm Bennes and Herzog who are “known for their extravagant movie palace, combined elements of Romanesque and Italian-Renaissance styles to construct Astoria’s ornate 700-seat vaudeville stage and motion picture theatre” (1). The theatre showed vaudeville acts, silent movies and brought in famous bands and people like Guy Lombardo, Duke Ellington, and Jack Benny (1). This place was booming during World War II with its main attraction being vaudeville acts for almost 25 years (1).

The liberty theatre had acquired a Style F “Special” Wurlitzer, opus 949 in 1924 but in 1930 it was taken out and sent to the Mayan Theatre in Denver, Colorado (2). When it was removed they left and inscription in the empty organ chamber wall, which was found during a renovation which read, “Organ removed Sept. 16-30 shipped to Denver Colorado to Mayan Theatre" (2). In the 1930’s, Liberty Theatre gained another Wurlitzer, a 2/4 Style B which came from the Astoria Theatre across the street. The organ was later moved in the late 1940’s when Bill Blunk purchased it and it was move several more times following (2). 

Note found on the empty organ chamber wall after the removal of Style F "Special" Wurlitzer opus 949
Puget Sound Pipeline, no date, Liberty Theatre. 


The Liberty Theatre has seen many up and downs, after decades its reputation was in decline, around the 1980’s the landlord, Edward Eng let the theatre go (1). No heat, no cleaning, sticky floors, broken seats, stained screen, and peepholes in the walls of the women’s bathroom (1). After suffering for many years, in 1992 Forrester, Michael Fosterm and Hal Snow formed a nonprofit organization to save the theatre (1). This group was able to raise $1.3 million and purchased the theatre in 2000 (1). Finally, $7.5 millions in renovation, they reopened the theater in 2005. To this day the Liberty is still considered, as it was in 1925, as “Astoria’s living room” (1). The Liberty Theatre has been restored in 2006 and it has made a major impact on the economic development on downtown Astoria (3). This theatre is one of the only 1920’s vintage motion picture palace restored to its original decorative architecture in Oregon (3). 

Liberty Theatre today, uploaded 2018
Our Coast Magazine, May 06, 2018, Liberty Theatre present day. 
Opening Night in 1925 of Liberty Theatre in Astoria, Oregon
Our Coast Magazine, May 06, 2018, Liberty Theatre Day of opening. 

Liberty Theatre in Astoria, Oregon, according to a historic preservation assessment from the National Park Service documents,(, was opened in 1925. However, sources from The Media History Digital Library, such as, The Motion Picture News, there are articles that write about the theatre being open and showing movies like the "Twin Beds" and it was published in 1921(4). Some promotional techniques used to advertise this movie were dolls in the lobby (4). It is said that these dolls brought and created laughter throughout the theatre. Astoria is known for having some gaps in online coverage of their newspapers so it has not be determined if the theater was in operation before the Astoria fire in 1922. 

Promotional Image for Liberty Theatre Featuring Dolls
Motion Picture News, February 05, 1921 Vol. 23 Liberty Theatre


Works Cited

    1. Cody, M. J. (2018, May 6). The Liberty Theatre's Comeback. Our Coast Magazine. Retrieved from
    2. Liberty (Fox) Theatre, Astoria Oregon. (n.d.). Retrieved from
    3. About the Liberty Theatre. (n.d.). Retrieved from
    4. "Dolls For Lobby Display," Motion Picture News, February 05, 1921: 23. Media History Digital Library.