Known Years of Operation

Jun 4, 1919 - Jan 17, 1930

Number of Seats




The Standard theatre was located in the small town of Athena just Northwest of Pendleton. The building was constructed in 1901, and in 1909 was converted to Athena’s first theatre house after the closing of a saloon there. It started as the Dime Theatre, then named the Dreamland in 1911, next the Peoples in 1916, and finally in 1919 became the Standard. When first opened in 1909 the theatre still had a flat floor, a skylight letting in disrupting light, and no stage. The theatre went under a lot of renovations in 1919 to be opened as the Standard, the floor was given a slope, a stage was created, the skylight was removed, and new seats were added courtesy of the Cosy theatre in Pendleton (1). The Standard had its first showing to the public on a Wednesday evening on June 4th, 1919. The opening program featured Henry Walthall in “A Still Small Voice” and Charlie Chaplin in “The Rink” to bring on laughter for audiences (2).

The Standard Theatre programs seemingly all were silent films, and admission prices were usually 10 cents for kiddies, 25 for kids, and 35 for adults, and also could include a war tax (3). The theatre made a lot of appearances in the towns newspaper The Athena Press, on the front page of the paper there were often articles talking about what programs were going to be shown at the theatre or any other news. The advertisements gained a consistent format, it would be one long rectangle outlined with a think black border and would name the programs on the normal Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday showings and give a brief description of the films. Comedy was a common selling point to encourage audiences to come have a laugh. 

The Standard Theatre was also used for other events in the community aside from just showing films. Various different groups used the theatre venue for meetings, music performances, and more.  Among the music events at the theatre, the University of Oregon's orchestra played successful concerts there (4). Even the candidate Walter Pierce running for governor in 1922 used the Standard to address the voters of Athena (5). 

In some places other ventures may pose as competition to local theatres, but in Athena the Standard Theatre seemed to be a vital part of the community. The only time there seemed to be an impact was during the Pendleton Round-Up, the theatre claimed they would not be having showings the night of the rodeo which a big event like that would likely draw large crowds from all around (6). The theatre held multiple benefit showings, one being to raise money for constructing the towns first swimming pool (7), and another time there was a benefit held for the high school athletics with a special program put on by students before the movie showing (8).

The Standard Theatre closed indefinitely in mid January in 1930. Turns out competition could pose a threat to the theatre, but not from other ventures in the town, but instead cinema itself. The emergence of sound pictures and dialogue gained popularity among moviegoers. The Standard was unable to keep up revenues with only showing silent films so ultimately had no choice but to close its doors (9).

Works Cited

  • (1) “History of the Gem Theatre.” Gem Theatre.

    (2) “New Standard Theatre Opens Next Wednesday,” The Athena Press, May 30, 1919: 1. Historic Oregon Newspapers.

    (3) Standard Theatre, advertisement, The Athena Press, May. 30, 1919: 2. Historic Oregon Newspapers.

    (4) “U. of O Orchestra Pleases Athena People,” The Athena Press, July. 15, 1927: 1. Historic Oregon Newspapers.

    (5) “Pierce Here Monday,” The Athena Press, Nov. 3, 1922: 1. Historic Oregon Newspapers.

    (6) “‘The Bloodship’ at the Standard Theatre,” The Athena Press, Sept. 14, 1928: 3. Historic Oregon Newspapers.

    (7) “Legion Post for Swimming Pool,” The Athena Press, Feb. 17, 1928: 1. Historic Oregon Newspapers.

    (8) “High School Notes,” The Athena Press, Oct. 6, 1922: 3. Historic Oregon Newspapers.

    (9) “Standard Theatre Closed,” The Athena Press, Jan. 17, 1930: 1. Historic Oregon Newspapers.