October 20, 1924 – present
Number of seats: 1,200 seats (1924), 739 seats (current). In a short article about the theater, Motion Picture World notes “George Hunt’s new Craterian in Medford, Ore., opened late in October. It is a 1,200-seat house, beautiful in its appointments. It gets its name from Crater Lake” (Motion Picture World, Nov. 22, 1924, p. 326).
Owners/managers: George A. Hunt (owner/manager), Jules B. Reisman (under Fox control), S. G. Mendenhall, manager and publicity director (Medford Mail Tribune, Sept. 30, 1928, p. 3). The Craterian Theater is still open and operating to today in Medford and the current staff roster is available on the theater’s website: http://www.craterian.org/.
On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, the Craterian Theatre put on vaudeville acts while Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays were reserved for films. With the advent of the Vitaphone, and its installation in Hunt’s Craterian Theatre in 1928, those films quickly became ‘talkies’ and the Craterian’s programs shifted away from focusing on featuring the vaudeville acts into showing the feature films that audiences could ‘see and hear.’
During the month of October, the George Hunt Theaters Co. celebrated the anniversary of the company’s incorporation with ‘specialized anniversary programs’. These programs included special events such as the ones advertised for the company’s 9th anniversary: “Good Pictures, Vaudeville and Revues Will Be Offered on Anniversary Month Theater Programs” (Medford Mail Tribune, Sept. 30, 1928, p. 6). The company took out a full page spread in the Medford Mail Tribune in order to advertise the specialized anniversary programs that the Rialto and Craterian Theaters would be presenting throughout October. This event included the “Grand Opening of Weekly Fanchon and Marco’s Stage Presentations” held on Sunday, October 7th, 1928 along with other ‘super attractions’ throughout October (Medford Mail Tribune, Sept. 30, 1924, p. 6).
The theater participated in numerous events in Medford such as the parade celebrating the Armistice Day in November of 1924. The day, celebrated for the Civil War football game between Medford High School and Ashland High School, included “special programs at the Rialto and Craterian Theaters” (Medford Mail Tribune, Nov. 10, 1924, p. 6). The Craterian’s management announced that “All Soldiers in Uniform Are Invited Guests of the Craterian Theater Till 6:00 P.M.” during the celebrations of Armistice Day (Medford Mail Tribune, Nov. 10, 1924, p. 2).
Promotional strategies notes:
The Craterian Theatre spared no expense when it came to advertising its theater, often times taking up most of the newspaper page with its advertisements in a time where adding photos and designs was extremely expensive. The promotional advertisements were very stylized and never the same design twice. The advertisements often times included images depicting scenes and characters from the films being shown at the theater alongside the highest praise that the theater could offer.
Through the growth of the theater, the advertisements changed and evolved with it. For example, the logo for Hunt’s Craterian evolved from simply the text into the circular bubble encapsulating “Hunt’s Craterian” attached to each of its advertisements. Additionally, within the bubble and below the name of the theater, the location of the theater “Central Just Off Main” was printed in order to inform patrons where to find the theater. With the aging of the theater and changing of different hands, the theater’s logo continued to change such as in “1928 Hunt sold his lease to Fox Theatres” and thus the logo for the theater again transformed and became ‘Fox Craterian’ (Cinema Treasures). George Hunt “bought it back in 1933 after Fox’s bankruptcy” and, thus, the Craterian returned to being called “Hunt’s Craterian” (Cinema Treasures).
The Craterian ran regular ads in the Medford Mail Tribune, and on the theatre’s first anniversary of operation, the newspaper ran an article boasting of the theatre’s modernity. “It is indeed a real pleasure for home folks to brag to visitors of the fact that nowhere on the coast is there a more up-to-date theatre than Hunt’s Craterian, and then to take them to the theatre and ‘show them’.” (Medford Mail Tribune, Oct. 21, 1925, p. 5).
Sample news clips, advertisements:
Provided below are examples of the advertisements and articles that ran in the local Medford Mail Tribune for the Craterian and exemplify how the theater evolved and grew throughout its first decade of operation.
Advertisements and articles courtesy of Medford Mail Tribune.
Fitzgibbon, Joe. “Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater.” Oregon Encyclopedia, Portland State University and the Oregon Historical Society, 17 Mar. 2018, oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/craterian_ginger_rogers_theater/#.Ww5jLkgvyUk.
Moving Picture World.
Pierce, Ron. “Craterian Theater.” Cinema Treasures, Cinema Treasures, cinematreasures.org/theaters/4427.
Truwe, Ben. “The Craterian Theater.” Southern Oregon History, Revised, 19 Aug. 2017, truwe.sohs.org/files/craterian.html.