Known Years of Operation

Nov 19, 1908 - Apr 22, 1916

Number of Seats



JP Medernach, Dr. Harry A. Medernach, John F. Greulich

Additional Facts

  • When the Orpheum was sold in 1916 the name was changed to the Cosy Theater and renovated to fit more vaudeville shows

The earliest mention of the Orpheum Theater in Pendleton Oregon comes from the East Oregonian newspaper on November 11, 19081. It remained open for seven and a half years, as it was sold and the name changed on April 22, 19162. With all the competition and frequent closing of theaters at the time, staying open for over seven years is quite impressive. The Orpheum was a fairly large theater, with 500 seats3. It went through three owners in the seven and a half years it was open, initially being opened by J.P. Medernach. When he fell ill and passed away ownership went to his son, Dr. Harry Medernach4. That was in 1914, and just a few years later Medernach sold the Orpheum to Frank Greulich, who only a few months later sold half of it and the name was changed2, 5. That was the last mention of the Orpheum in the East Oregonian although it stayed open with the new name for a time.

The theater was located right on Main Street, with a prime location to entice an audience to come in to see a show6. There were more than just motion pictures shown at the Orpheum. It also offered things like illustrated lectures, vaudeville shows, and live orchestra performances7, 8, 9. In one article advertising the theater, it was mentioned that it would always “cater to the patronage and good will of the ladies and children” as well as “only the best of clean, educational, and pleasing films”10. It is clear that the owner wanted to attract all audiences and make sure the theater was an ideal place for families to go to. While the Orpheum was not involved in very many promotions, one way the theater made itself more appealing was by improving the area around it. When J.P. Medernach was the owner, he oversaw the addition of cement sidewalks and streetlamps outside, helping to add to not only the theater but the city as a whole11, 12. And later, when his son Harry was the owner, he improved the inside of the theater to add things like new seats and furnace heating13. These actions helped integrate the theater into the community and make sure people knew that it was a desirable location.

Works Cited

  • 1. "Next Annual Meeting of State Sheepmen May be in Pendleton," East Oregonian, November 19, 1908, pg 1. Oregon Historical Newspapers Database.

  • 2. "E.L. Cooper Takes Half Interest in the Orpheum," East Oregonian, April 22, 1916, pg 1. Oregon Historical Newspapers Database.

  • 3. "Local Playhouses: Orpheum," East Oregonian, April 29, 1914, pg 6. Oregon Historical Newspapers Database.

  • 4. "Pioneer Resident Passes Away at Home of His Son," East Oregonian, October 10, 1914, pg 8. Oregon Historical Newspapers Database.

  • 5. "Orpheum Theater Changes Hands," East Oregonian, March 7, 1916, pg 1. Oregon Historical Newspapers Database.

  • 6. Digital Sanborn Maps, May 1910, Sheet 16

  • 7. "Illustrated Lecture," East Oregonian, March 11, 1913, pg 8. Oregon Historical Newspapers Database.

  • 8. "Orpheum Theater: Pendleton's Favorite Vaudeville and Moving Pictures Show," East Oregonian, June 23, 1909, pg 6. Oregon Historical Newspapers Database.

  • 9. "At the Picture Shows: Program at the Orpheum Theater," East Oregonian, November 3, 1909, pg 5. Oregon Historical Newspapers Database.

  • 10. "The Orpheum Theater," East Oregonian, September 25, 1914, pg 9. Oregon Historical Newspapers Database.

  • 11. "Will Lay Cement Walks," East Oregonian, April 6, 1911, pg 10. Oregon Historical Newspapers Database.

  • 12. "Still More Street Lamps," East Oregonian, December 17, 1910, pg 12. Oregon Historical Newspapers Database.

  • 13. "Orpheum is Improved," East Oregonian, December 16, 1914 pg 8. Oregon Historical Newspapers Database.