Known Years of Operation

Feb 17, 1916 - Dec 29, 1922

Number of Seats




Additional Facts

  • In 1916, the price for admission was advertised as being 5 or 10 cents. However, in 1921, newspaper advertisements stated that the price for admission was now 10 cents, 15 cents and 25 cents.

Based on the newspapers that were available from the Historic Oregon Newspapers, the Liberty Theatre was in operation from February 17, 1916 through December 29, 1922. The theatre was most likely open longer than mentioned due to the popularity and amount of advertisements released. According to The Hillsboro Argus from 1916, the Liberty Theatre was formerly known as the Grand Theatre. The grand opening night of the theatre was on Friday, February 18, 1916. Unfortunately, I was not able to find the address, number of seats, and owners. Because of the amount of advertisements for the theatre and because of how small Hillsboro is compared to Portland, one could assume  the address did not need to be mentioned because many people already knew where the theatre was located.

Many of the advertisements for the Liberty Theatre showcased a range of program information. From The Hillsboro Argus in 1916, it was being promoted that there were to be “vocal solos by Alice Mae Phelps, Sidney Drew in 15 minutes of laughter, vitagraph comedy, hearst vitagraph weekly, live up-to-the-minute news, 4 piece orchestra” as well as Charlie Chaplin being mentioned in a “brand new 2-reel comedy.” It seems as if many of the programming and promotional strategies used by the theatre owners were solely focused on the audiences. There were a wide range of films and entertainment to be shown that would attract many audience members.

Newspaper Advertisement for Liberty Theatre
The Hillsboro Argus, February 17, 1916, page 2


In 1916, The Hillsboro Argus stated that one of their showings was the “absolutely first run in Hillsboro,” attempting to appeal to the crowds and showing audiences popular entertainment to keep them interested in continuously attending different showings and becoming loyal to the theatre itself. 

The Liberty Theatre was interested in being the best option for people and made it clear, through their newspaper advertisements, that they were offering the best deals and had the best programs. For example, in the 1921 Hillsboro Argus,  their 10-reel program was said to include “The Silver Horde,” as it was posted in bold letters that their prices were 10 cents, 15 cents, and 25 cents. In order to stay above their competitors, they mentioned in smaller print that the feature they were showing “played throughout the state at 35 cents and 50 cents,” proving they had the better option.

Popular with the time the theatre was open, Audrey Munson was mentioned in many of the advertisements. It was common for one single page of a newspaper to have multiple advertisements for the Liberty Theatre. According to Stephen Heyman in a Vogue article, it was argued that “Munson was America’s first supermodel.” It is likely for people to pass her on the streets in New York City without even realizing it because there are so many statues of her. Munson began her career working “as a Broadway chorus girl, became famous for her ideal ‘Grecian’ proportions.” She then pursued acting as she was advertised to be shown at the Liberty Theatre without a vulgar scene.

Photo of Audrey Munson
Audrey Munson. Photo: Corbis/ Courtesy of Regan Arts.

Overall, the Liberty Theatre was popular enough for locals because no address had to be included in the advertisements for people to find it. As I was searching for a map to showcase where the theatre was located, I found a Sanborn map that displays two theaters, one being the Ventian Theatre, and the other is assumed to be the Liberty Theatre. Although I do not have an exact address of the Liberty Theatre, I believe it was located in between East Lincoln and East Main Street on North 3rd Avenue in Hillsboro. According to The Hillsboro Argus, the theatre also made sure to keep up with technological innovations by replacing their standard projector with the “newest improved motion picture projector.”

Newspaper story for the Liberty Theatre
The Hillsboro Argus, April 01, 1920, page 2


Works Cited

    1. Sanborn Maps, Hillsboro September 1921-April 1948, Sheet 4
    2. Audrey Munson. Photo: Corbis/ Courtesy of Regan Arts.
    3. The Hillsboro Argus, February 17, 1916, page 2
    4. The Hillsboro Argus, March 02, 1912, page 2
    5. The Hillsboro Argus, April 13, 1916, page 2
    6. The Hillsboro Argus, February 17, 1921, page 2
    7. The Hillsboro Argus, March 24, 1921, page 2
    8. The Hillsboro Argus, December 21, 1916, page 2
    9. The Hillsboro Argus, April 01, 1920, page 2

     Heyman, Stephen. A New Book Tells the Unbelievable Life Story of America's First Supermodel. Vogue, 17 Apr. 2016,