Known Years of Operation

Sep 10, 1925 - Present

Number of Seats



George S. Smith, Ellsworth J. Potter, Kenneth W. Cockerline, Mrs. Geneva Stenbo Cockerline, Multnomah Theater Company, Avalon Theatre Corporation, Chuck Nakvasil

The Moreland Theater is a single-screen neighborhood theater in the Moreland-Sellwood neighborhood that opened prior to October 1st, 19251. The building was built to suit for the theater with a budget of $35,000 by Mr. George S. Smith, who already owned other Portland theaters2. Thomas and Thomas Architects designed the building, which also houses several other retail spaces3. It was built for an audience of 675 people, and was designed to be fireproof2. The building has not been significantly altered since it was built, with the exception of a new marquee by Simonton and Steele in 19503.

streetview of the moreland theater marquee from 1982.
Moreland Theater Marquee. Portland, Oregon. May 1982. Image from the City of Portland Historic Resource Inventory.

The Moreland Theater is a small neighborhood theater, so they have been very involved in the community by hosting local events and fundraisers. Two significant events have been the Rose Festival Junior Court and an annual children’s fundraiser. There have also been numerous church events, including Easter services held in the theater4. Since at least 1932, the theater hosted the Gamma Phi Beta Annual Benefit for children5. It was planned by the sorority alumni, but the theater donated the use of the theater space for the event. It was a fundraiser for their programs that benefit underprivileged children. The theater played kid friendly movies, including Mickey Mouse, and it was mentioned that there may also have been a variety of performances from the children6. The event was held each spring through at least 1963, and had guests each year from local children’s groups7. The Junior Rose Festival also held its annual event at the theater, where they announced the prince and princess of the court at the event for kids and teenagers from the local area8.

The theater has gone through several changes in ownership, but has not changed the theater or its name. It was opened by Mr. Smith and at some point, was bought by the Multnomah Theater Corporation, which also owned other theaters in Portland. Then in 1928, Kenneth Cockerline and his wife took over ownership of the theater9. They owned it for a significant period of time and were influential in Portland movie industry because both were involved with the Board of Censors. Mr. Cockerline was appointed to the Board of Review in 1942 and eventually became Chairman10. His wife continued operation of the theater and was appointed to the Board after his death in 194611. Sometime before May 1983 it was taken over by Avalon Theatre Corporation, who currently own the theater12.

image of several people standing in front of the moreland theater marquee
Moreland Theater. Owners Mr. and Mrs. Cockerline may be in the photo. From Pamplin Media, Courtesy of Don Nelson.


Works Cited

    1. “New Theaters,” The Film Daily, October 1, 1925: 10. Media History Digital Library.
    2. “Theater Will Be Erected,” The Sunday Oregonian, November 9, 1924: 23.
    3. “Historic Resource Inventory City of Portland;” National Register of Historic Places Database. May 1982. 
    4. “Theater Bills Easter Rites,” The Oregonian, April 8, 1944: 7.
    5. “Gamma Phi Beta Alumnae to Give Benefit Affair,” The Sunday Oregonian, May 22, 1932: 32.
    6. “Benefit Movie Set for Sunday,” The Oregonian, April 13, 1939: 8.
    7. “Sorority Gives 2 Scholarships,” The Oregonian, March 25, 1963: 22.
    8. “Festival Honors to be Conferred,” The Oregonian, May 21, 1937: 16.
    9. Motion Picture News, October 3, 1928: 1274. Media History Digital Library
    10. “Theater Man on Censor Board,” The Film Daily, December 21, 1942: 3. Media History Digital Library.
    11. Showman’s Trade Review, February 2, 1946: 36. Media History Digital Library
    12. “Avalon Theatre Corp.,” Multnomah Public Tax Records. From

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