St. Johns Theatre, 1975

Now called St Johns Twin Cinemas, the theatre at the corner of N. Lombard and Alta has gone by several names but unlike other small theatres, has remained proudly family friendly. Built in 1924 an organist would accompany screenings of silent films.  In 1926 it was upgraded to show “talkies” and renamed McCredie’s Venetian until returning to “St. Johns” at an unknown date.

Interesting tidbits courtesy of Wikipedia:

Plans to build a “modern” theater in what was then the city of St. Johns were announced in 1913 by C. A. Metzger of the People’s Amusement Company. The blueprints called for a concrete two-and-a-half story, 50 by 100 ft. building that was estimated to cost US$30,000 ($421,173 USD 2016 ).[1][2] It featured a 650-seat auditorium.

In 1915, the St. Johns City Council voted in favor of an ordinance that would censor a film entitled The House of Bondage[3]and put in place a board of censorship to weed out “lewd” films, spearheaded by socialist mayor A. W. Vincent. Managers of the theatre were supportive of the censorship board and refused to show the film a year before the ordinance was enacted.[4][5]The theater hosted a town hall event in 1928 about the proposition of a new bridge over the Willamette River in St. Johns. The St. Johns Bridge was completed in 1931.[6]

In 1983, the theater was fully renovated by David A. Jones and David H. Evans, who were renovating several theaters around Portland. The main floor auditorium featured 350 seats and the upstairs featured 225 seats.[7]

Marty and Barb Robertson leased the theatre in the 80s and lived in the second floor apartment above the theatre decorating it in a “bohemian” style. On July 7, 1986 a firecracker tossed into an open window set their eccentric belongings up in smoke and caused approximately $30k damages.

It’s too bad new sign is so squat, at least it does try to evoke the original’s style but its modest height ends up relating more to the sidewalk than the street as a whole and loses the attendant sense of being the visual center of the strip.

Fun fact: According to many, the theatre is haunted by a kindly male spirit who has made himself known to investigators through aural disturbances.


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