Local movie entrepreneurs J.J. Bryan and Mrs. M.E. Watson opened the grand Oregon Theatre in July 1915. They had recently spent over $4,000 remodeling and expanding the space formerly occupied by the Folly theater.
Bryan and Watson invested in an aggressive promotional campaign for their new theater during the summer of 1915. They ran regular, large ads in the Eugene Daily Guard to announce upcoming shows, and used the effective “beautiful baby voting” contest to attract families to the theater.
The Oregon presented a program that was a typical mix of feature-length narrative fiction films, along with non-fiction shorts, comedies, and newsreels. One week in July 1915, for example, moviegoers could see The Wild Goose Chase, Physical Training in the French Army, and a selection of Paramount travel pictures. Admission was 5¢ and 10¢.
The Oregon contracted with Paramount Pictures to be the exclusive exhibitor of Paramount movies in Eugene.
In July 1915, the Oregon hosted the locally made film The Stolen Pie, which featured many Eugene citizens. The Stolen Pie was not unique to Eugene. In fact, it followed a formula of itinerant filmmaking in which a small production outfit moved from town to town in a region to make the same story over and over again with local townspeople as the cast. The films were typically sponsored by one of the town's theaters which would then have an exclusive right to show the movie. Theater owners were practically guaranteed ticket sales as people came to see themselves and their neighbors on the big screen. The Stolen Pie was produced and screened in Klamath Falls and Medford, as well as several cities in the Midwest.
Despite all of these efforts and the financial investment they had plowed into the theater, within two months of opening Bryan and Watson gave up and closed the Oregon. They leased the theater to the management of the Rex and the Savoy, and it continued under different ownership through 1919.
The Oregon continued to be a stalwart member of the local movie house scene, showing popular features such as The Spell of the Yukon (Burton King, 1916) and the sensational documentary Cannibals of the South Seas (Martin and Osa Johnson, 1918).
The last ads for the Oregon theater appeared in late December 1919, and nearly a year later the theater was remodeled and re-opened as the Castle.