The Orpheum opened at the beginning of 1908 in a storefront space formerly occupied by the Little Gem theater. The new owners planned to feature primarily "first-class vaudeville" and moving pictures. However, within a few months they adjusted their programming to focus more on movies, apparently because of patron demand.
Creating a distinctive brand would have been important for the Orpheum, which joined a crowded entertainment scene in Eugene in 1908. Several other venues were already in operation at that time: the Grand, the Electric, the Dreamland, the Nickelodian, and the Eugene Theatre.
Ads for the Orpheum indicate a variety of programming, including vaudeville, motion pictures, illustrated songs, and live music. Admission was usually 10 cents for adults, 5 cents for children, although prices ticked up after a management change in early 1909.
After changing hands numerous times during its year of operation, the Orpheum was sold in late December 1908, and re-opened in the new year as the Lyric.