The Community Planning Workshop’s (CPW) Oregon Historic Theatre Preservation Team have begun our initial stages in helping to build a framework for the revitalization of downtown historic theatres throughout the state of Oregon.
Historic theatres are not only an all-American pastime, they also boosts tourism and stimulates downtown economic activity within cities and towns. Our team will be taking advantage of our partnership with Oregon Main Street, Pacific Power, and Travel Oregon that will enable us to gain expert insight in creating a lasting blueprint to increase economic vitality and boost tourism in downtowns all over the state.
Before our team conducted additional independent research, we first gathered and consolidated all previous research to eliminate redundancy and use our data efficiently. This involved pouring over theatre inventory spreadsheets, websites, and then double, or even triple checking all of our facts and figures.
Sounds like fun, right?
Well, actually, it is! In addition to reviewing interesting facts, archived photographs, and even the occasional “epic story”, our team took to the streets of downtown Eugene to visit our very own McDonald Theatre. We received a one-of-a-kind in-depth look at the theatre; dressing rooms, projectionist booth, backstage, rafters, everywhere! Our tour guide, production manager, Jason Way, provided us with more information and theatre education than we originally thought possible.
McDonald Theatre is mainly a live music venue these days, but they do show the occasional movie every now and then for old times’ sake. It was built in 1925, and ownership is now in the hands of the Kit Kesey, nephew of world-renowned author Ken Kesey, who has owned it since 2009.
Hitting the Road
Inspired by our first trip, fellow teammate, Dana Nichols, and myself took an additional field trip to Alberta Rose Theatre located in Portland, Oregon. The building is remarkably similar to the McDonald Theatre; both have attached business storefronts, primarily to the left of the front entrance. The Alberta Rose Theatre was built 2 years after the McDonald Theatre and both are constructed in the same poured concrete style.
Although there are close to 100 historic theatres throughout Oregon, our team is going to do our best to visit as many of them as possible. As good as reviewing historic documentation, phoning theatre owners, scanning old newspapers, and polling community members is, nothing compares to visiting the theatre and feeling the aura elicited from the marquee.
Stay tuned in for more interesting updates about our research, findings, and field trips.
About the Author: Craig Wiroll is a journalist and farmer-turned-Master of Public Administration student with high hopes of changing the world. For now, he’s just going to focus on the UO Campus. Craig is also a two-time AmeriCorps alum from Wisconsin, who enjoys public radio, hiking and food. Craig also works at the Student Sustainability Coalition and is the founding member of a UO volunteer/action group based around food issues.