Known Years of Operation

Jun 20, 1904 - Dec 31, 1920

Number of Seats



R. G. Turner , Marine Investment Co, Props, People's Amusement Co, Props, S. Morton Cohn

The Star Theater is a moving picture theater located in downtown Portland, Oregon, at 361 Washington at the NW corner of Park. It was open from 1904 to 1920. In 1904 it opened as a vaudeville house and was said to be the “best equipped vaudeville house in the west” (1). The ad for opening night included acts “to laugh at,” “to please the eye,” “that entertain,” and “that amuse,” (2) and it included fun geometric shapes, I assume to bring reader’s eyes to their ads. After it opened it seemed to stay a vaudeville house until sometime between 1909 and 1910. During this period of time it seems that they made the shift from vaudeville to motion pictures. In 1913 it was renovated and was described as “The New Star.” It was said that “The New Star” was “superbly ventilated” and had upholstered seats for “extreme class.” This renovation was supposed to create “The New Star habit” (5), meaning people would start habitually attending the Star. They used what seems like a remodeling as a way to get people to come visit the Star Theater.

Sunday Oregonian, June 19th, 1904, Page 19
Ad for Opening Night of the Star Theater, 1904. Sunday Oregonian, June 19, 1904, p. 19. Historic Oregon Newspapers.
Morning Oregonian, March 17th, 1915, Page 2
Example of Star Border. Morning Oregonian, Mar. 17, 1915, p. 2. Historic Oregon Newspapers.

The Star Theater didn’t have a particular type of film that they liked to show but they did seem to show what was popular at the time. One promotional strategy that the Star Theater used was to create a star filled border (7) around its ads in order to separate it from the rest of the page in hopes people see that ad first. The ads also made a point to mention who was starring in the film as a way to get people to come see their favorite actors. For example, when the Star was showing “The Witch Girl” they made it a point to mention that Mary Fuller was in it and adding “the Ever-Popular Star” underneath her name that was written just as large as the title of the film (6). The ads also oftentimes had large photos of the film or people in the film on it (8). This made the ads more visually appealing and eye catching. They also held some contests to gain more attention from potential viewers. One contest that caught my eye was the contest they held for babies (3). They picked three babies and it seems as though they used these babies in a film and those films were given to the parents as souvenirs. This baby contest seemed to be used as a way for parents to bring their babies to the theater and get them in the door. Once they saw the theater they would be more likely to come back. In 1922, there was an announcement made that the Star would be torn down and a new building would be put up in its place (9).

Works Cited

    1. Sunday Oregonian, June 12th, 1904, Page 18
    2. Sunday Oregonian, June 19th, 1904, Page 19
    3. Morning Oregonian, August 13th, 1912, Page 1
    4. Oregon Daily Journal, November 26th, 1913, Page 18
    5. Morning Oregonian, December 26th, 1913, Page 9
    6. Sunday Oregonian, November 1st, 1914, Page 3
    7. Morning Oregonian, March 17th, 1915, Page 2
    8. Sunday Oregonian, June 24th, 1917, Page 5
    9. Sunday Oregonian, November 26th, 1922, Page 10
    10. Portland Directories 1910-1920
    11. Sanborn Map 1909