About this Project

Hometown Show, aka the Oregon Theater Project, provides a historical sketch of movie theaters in Oregon from the beginning of cinema at the turn of the 20th century through the silent era (1896-1930). The website aims to document the history of moviegoing in Oregon–why people went to the movies, where people watched them, and what people thought about them. Movie theaters were often a vital part of the social and economic life within communities, and movies were available in towns of all sizes throughout Oregon.

Hometown Show originated as a project of a University of Oregon Cinema Studies course, CINE 335 Moviegoing & Audiences, taught as a collaboration between Prof. Michael Aronson and librarian Elizabeth Peterson during spring term 2018. The majority of the content on the website is the work of undergraduate students from this class, and as such is a work in progress. Students worked in groups that focused on eight Oregon cities: Albany, Corvallis, Klamath Falls, La Grande, Medford, Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. These cities were selected based on the availability of digital newspaper coverage for the period of study, and we relied heavily on the Oregon Digital Newspaper Project and Oregon newspapers in Newspapers.com.

The theaters profiled here offer a glimpse into the history of those towns as well as the broader history of film exhibition and distribution. Each profile provides basic information about the theater or venue, including the name, address, dates of operation, owners and/or managers, the number of seats (when available), programming, promotional strategies, and other relevant information.

Details about the theaters have been gleaned from primary sources such as city directories, newspapers, industry and trade publications, Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, and local histories. Profiles may be incomplete as contributors discover new information in the course of their research.

Comments, corrections, and additional details are welcome. Please contact us at ortheaterproject@uoregon.edu.

The Rex theater opened in Eugene in 1912. Image courtesy of Lane County Historical Museum, Photo GN1704.