The Elsinore Theatre is a theatre located in Salem, Oregon, United States, that first opened on May 28, 1926.
Construction and early years
Owner George Guthrie enlisted the firm of Lawrence and Holford to design the theatre in a Tudor Gothic style meant to resemble the castle in the city of Elsinore from Shakespeare's play Hamlet. Ellis F. Lawrence, the first dean of the University Of Oregon school of architecture, was the project's principal architect. The building features stained glass by the Povey Brothers and a Mighty Wurlitzer theatre organ similar to the original, which was dismantled in 1962. Originally the Elsinore was designed for live performances and silent films. Three years after its construction in 1926, Guthrie leased the theatre to Fox West Coast Theatres. It was at this time that sound movies came to the theatre. One year after the lease to Fox Theaters, Guthrie leased it out to a different theater company, Warner Brothers Theaters which ran it as a movie theater until 1951.
Decline and restoration
In 1954, the theatre began a general decline from its once great status in Salem into a second-run movie theater. In 1980, the Elsinore was set to be demolished. A grassroots effort known as the Save the Elsinore Committee did not want to let this historical treasure be demolished, and so began to work hard with local authorities to save the theatre. While the theatre was eventually saved from demolition, the committee was unable to effect any other major changes, as the two ballot measures pertaining to the theatre, one for its purchase and restoration, and another for long term operating funds, were defeated in 1981.
During the 1980s, the Save the Elsinore Committee obtained the consent of the owner to use the theatre for 18 days of the year for free community events in order to spark public interest about the theatre and its fate. The free events drew attendance of over 75,000 people. Until 1987, the theatre was one of only three active movie theaters in downtown Salem (the others being the Capitol Theater just around the corner and an arthouse theater). Many of its customers came from Willamette University, drawn both by low admission prices and by the fact that the Elsinore was only two blocks off campus. In 1987, the Moyer family opened a new 7-screen movie theater several blocks away and converted an older multiplex theater elsewhere in Salem to a second-run movie house, effectively ending the Elsinore's life as a commercial movie theater.