Grand Theatre (Salem)

Grand Theater

1900 – present

187 High Street NE · Salem, Oregon 97301

Grand Theater building circa 1920s

 


Sanborn Fire Insurance Map 1926 (click to enlarge)

Seating capacity: 382

Owners/managers: F. L. Waters, A.E. Laflar, Arthur Hile


 

Statesman Journal January 13, 1917

D. W. Griffith’s epic Intolerance, his follow-up film to Birth of a Nation, arrived in Salem in January of 1917. Very prominent advertisements proclaimed the merits of the film to the newspaper patrons of Salem.

 

Statesman Journal, September 8, 1920

Adolph Zukor & Jesse Lasky’s Paramount hit Everywoman played in early September at the Grand Theater. Advertised as “an eight-reel special production,” it played for four days at the Grand and received a favorable review in the Statesman Journal following its debut night.1,2

 

Statesman Journal May 31, 1918

 

June 1918 advertisement for a series of free lectures presented by a Portland vocational director and psychoanalyst. Subjects include vocational direction, the subconscious mind, and “the power of suggestion.” There is a special mention of “psychic and vocational demonstration.”

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Capital Journal, Nov. 24 1914

The Grand participated in advertising tie-ins with automobile companies, like this one from 1914. The Maxwell Motor Company produced a film of their steel works and car factories, and local Maxwell distributors teamed up with theaters to show the film. Maxwell either provided the film for free or paid theaters to show it, as admission was free. This film served not only to advertise Maxwell cars, but to bring an audience to the Grand for a free movie. Perhaps people not otherwise interested in films would be drawn in by the “educational” nature of the film. Increased exposure could lead to more potential audience members in the future, turning this car advertising stunt into an equally effective advertising ploy for the Grand. On this occasion in Salem, hundreds of people turned out to see the film despite inclement weather, and the next day’s newspaper declared the showing “of intense interest.”3

 

 

Statesman Journal May 23, 1915 (click to enlarge)

Another automobile tie-in appeared in 1915, when Ye Liberty and the Grand teamed up for a giant prize giveaway. The competition was based on nominations, which had to be submitted on paper at the Grand Theater office. The individual with the most nominations won the grand prize, and other prizes were offered as well. The first-place prize was a brand-new Buick, and the total value of all prizes was around $2600 (around $65,000 in 2018 dollars4). This extravagant outlay of capital was probably possible due to T. G. Bligh’s involvement with the theater (he is listed as the proprietor in the 1917 Salem City Directory, though exactly what his relationship was with the theater is unclear). The value of prizes offered probably was enough incentive to draw people to the Grand’s office, with the result that the Grand would become more widely recognized among the citizenry of Salem.

 

 


Citations:

1: Statesman Journal, September 5, 1920. pg. 7

2: Statesman Journal, September 9, 1920. pg. 5

3: “Great Enthusiasm at Maxwell Movies” Daily Capital Journal, November 30, 1914. pg. 3

4: www.officialdata.org inflation calculator. Accessed June 11, 2018.