The Historic Elsinore Theater
|The Elsinore Theater has been a significant entertainment
venue for the Salem area since its construction in 1926. It
was known for silent movies accompanied by a large Wurlitzer
theater organ. Along with Bligh's Roman Capitol Theater around
the corner on State Street, also built in 1926, the Elsinore
presented touring plays and vaudeville acts, including Edgar
Bergen and the John Phillip Sousa Marine Band. In 1932 the building
was equipped with sound for talking movies.
During the 1930's, it became home to Salem's Mickey Mouse Club
talent shows. The Elsinore continued as a movie theater until
1993, when it was bought by a non-profit agency and converted
into a performing arts center.
The Elsinore was added to the National Register of Historic
Places in 1994. It is an example of an "atmospheric"
movie palace, in which the theater building was intended to
be part of the entertainment. Built to resemble a Gothic castle,
the Elsinore was named for the palace in Shakespeare's Hamlet.
The Elsinore's exterior was designed by Ellis F. Lawrence, a
Massachusetts Institute of Technology -educated architect who
was founding dean of the University of Oregon's School of Architecture
and Allied Arts. One of Lawrence's associates, Fred Allyn, designed
the interior. The theater's three sets of entrance doors were
restored to the original Flemish oak in 1984. The facade has
seventeen windows, some of which contain art glass panes painted
by Albert Gerlach of Povey Brothers Studio of Portland. The
upper balcony windows are made of stained glass pieces from
a cathedral in Germany that was bombed in World War I.
Nowland B. Zane, a member of the University of Oregon's Fine
Arts faculty, painted the two large Shakespeare-themed murals
over the lobby staircases. Henry Jaegler of Salem's Jaegler
Steelworks crafted the wrought iron staircase railings. When
it opened, the theater had a seating capacity of 1435. Main
floor seats were upholstered in blue and gold with arms and
backs of Flemish oak.
Researched and written by Melinda Woodward, 1999