Liberty (Medford)

Liberty Theatre

1918 – 1921

222 E. Main St., 1911. Digital Sanborn Maps


Number of seats: 600 seats

Owners/managers: Henry Harcke manager, George A. Hunt owner

Programming notes: The Liberty Theater worked to show films featuring big name stars and put out a high-culture image.

Promotional strategies notes: Advertising tends to focus on star quality, placing importance on the actors over the film itself. In most advertisements found for upcoming films the fist thing or the largest thing on it would be the star or stars of films instead of the title. There is a trend of phrasing the byline to suggest that the actors are going to arrive and perform at The Liberty in person. There is also a focus on this being a modern and higher class environment featuring the most modern technology and the highest demand films.

Sample news clips, advertisements

Medford Mail Tribune. Nov. 21, 1918, p. 3

When this theater opened it advertised the best equipment and music. There is an emphasis on exclusivity with their slogan “Where those who know will prefer to go” implying that certain aspects of the theater will only be known to those who are possibly worthy. They also hoped to draw in audiences by emphasizing the emerging Hollywood star system in a lengthy list of stars that would be featured in upcoming films at the Liberty.

Medford Mail Tribune, May 12, 1919

This ad predominantly features a headshot of the “charming prima donna” Dorothy Dalton, drawing in the public with the promise of being able to watch the victories of this lovely woman. With the title “Fatty Arbuckle At The Liberty” there is an implication that he will arrive in Medford and perform live at The Liberty. One has to read the rest of the article to realize that its only a film screening.

Medford Mail Tribune, June 11, 1920

This is another film that works to bring in a more high-culture crowd. This time they advertise the name of the film as much as the star, given that Carmen is also the name of a popular opera, a pastime synonymous with high-culture.


Medford Mail Tribune, January 13, 1920

This clipping makes appeals to communities opposite of what the Liberty has advertised towards up until this point. This slapstick comedy with supposedly no famous movie stars goes against the high-culture star system films and events the Liberty has advertised up until this point. This article works to reflect the comedy found in the film. It tries to provide lost mothers with an explanation for their prankster children.

Notable events:


Medford Mail Tribune, November 15, 1918

This article, much like the earlier on regarding the opening, promises stars in abundance. It also expands on the deal between the Liberty and Paramount Pictures, implying a certain legitimacy in paperwork. And a man from the community will lead the theater.

The ban discussed was created for Jackson county in the midst of the Spanish Influenza outbreak and in order to avoid outbreaks they placed bans on large social gatherings and several movie theaters in the city closed temporarily.

Medford Mail Tribune, January 7, 1921

There is not much information on the closure of the Liberty Theater and no explicit reason for the closure can be found.

Medford Mail Tribune, Saturday, May 31, 1919

If the manager wanted to work to bring in more people to see certain films, then he could do something like this as well as advertise the film in the paper.

Medford Mail Tribune, Wednesday, April 9, 1919

In order to bring in more children and therefore families the Liberty would host events like this. One thing of note in this clipping is the emphasis on the free viewing juxtaposed with the one cent war tax which was quite prevalent in Medford at the time. In order to supposedly keep prices low theaters would make sure to keep the war tax as a separate cost for movie tickets.



Medford Mail Tribune [Medford, Oregon] January 7, 1921. Published: Print.
Medford Mail Tribune [Medford, Oregon] November 15, 1918. Published: Print.
Medford Mail Tribune [Medford, Oregon]  January 13, 1920. Published: Print.
Medford Mail Tribune [Medford, Oregon] June 11, 1920. Published: Print.
Medford Mail Tribune [Medford, Oregon] May 12, 1919. Published: Print.
Medford Mail Tribune [Medford, Oregon] November 21, 1918. p 3. Published: Print.

Medford Mail Tribune [Medford, Oregon] April 9, 1919. Published: Print.

Medford Mail Tribune [Medford, Oregon] May 31, 1919. Published: Print.

Medford Mail Tribune [Medford, Oregon] November 13, 1919. Published: Print.