103 E. 3rd Avenue,
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Previously operated by: Midstate Amusement Corp.
Styles: Streamline Moderne
Previous Names: Orpheus Theatre, Colonial Theater
Opened as the Orpheus Theatre. On December 31, 1913 the theatre was renamed Colonial Theater and began showing movies. In 1935 the Colonial Theater was remodeled and the name was changed to the Audion Theater. It was operated by Midstate Amusement Corp. in the early-1940’s. From the mid-1980s until late-2007, the former theater building housed an antiques store, but became vacant in early-2008. In the summer of 2009, it had reopened as a retail unit. By 2017 it had become a yoga studio, but had closed by 2022. By January 2023 it was in use as a musical instrument teaching facility.
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Recent comments (view all 14 comments)
Here’s a brief item from the February 26, 1938, issue of Boxoffice: “Fire damaged Clarence Farrell’s new Audion Theatre in Ellensburg and the house will be closed for some time for repairs.” That’s the earliest mention of the Audion I’ve been able to find, and I can’t find the Colonial or Ellensburg mentioned at all.
A July 30, 1938, Boxoffice item said that Clarence Farrell was showing first-run movies at his Audion and Midstate theaters in Ellensburg. The Midstate had opened the previous year, according to an announcement in Boxoffice of December 18, 1937. The 1938 item also said that Clarence Farrell had been running a theater at Ellensburg for 17 years, and though the item didn’t give a name for it, it was most likely the Audion when it was called the Colonial.
The July 20, 1946 issue of Boxoffice reported that Clarence Farrell, having purchased the Pix and Liberty theaters at Ellensburg from Fred Mercy, would dismantle his Midstate Theatre there and would use the Audion as a stand-by theater. I’ve found no later mentions of the Audion in Boxoffice.
As of 6/11, the Audion building is FOR SALE.
Our current description conflates two theaters, an error probably derived from this article published in the local newspaper in 2005. The Audion was never the Ellensburg Theatre, which was located in the Lloyd Building at the southwest corner of Third Avenue and Pine Street, and was demolished in 1953.
The Audion was a house that was called the Orpheus Theatre until it was bought, remodeled and renamed the Colonial Theatre by J. E. Ferrell in late 1913. The Colonial Theatre opened on New Year’s Eve, according to this ad that Ferrell placed in the January 8, 1914, issue of the Ellensburg Capital.
This article about the opening of the Audion Theatre on Thursday, November 28, 1935, appeared in the Ellensburg Daily Record the following Monday. It doesn’t mention the house having previously been the Colonial Theatre, but this article from the April 26, 1979, Daily Record does. In 1979, the theater had been disused for more than three decades, having been closed in the mid-1940s when theaters in Ellensburg were consolidated under a single operator (my previous comment cites Boxoffice of July 20, 1946, which says that Clarence Farrell intended to use the Audion as a standby theatre. It might never have reopened.) The house might not have been dismantled until 1957, though, when classified ads in the newspaper offered seats from the Audion Theatre for sale.
An October, 1913, newspaper item refereed to the Orpheus as Ellensburg’s “new movie theater.” It wasn’t open for long before it was renamed the Colonial, then.
Also, a correction to my previous comment: The Ellensburg theater was at the Southeast corner of Third and Pine, not the southwest corner. The Ellensburg was the house that in its last days became the Midstate Theatre, which Clarence Farrell dismantled in 1946.
Currently, the Audion is a yoga studio.
Just uploaded a B&W photo of the Audion taken in 1936. Can tell that it is that date from the video card on the front of the theater — “The Return of Sophie Lang,” starring Ray Milland, which was released in 1936. Photo taken by my Father, Ed Wilson (owned Ed’s Cleaners, located on corner of Third and Pine). The B&W negative is large format (4"X5"). My scanner did not capture the entire photo, just the middle. Spent many a Saturday morning in the Pix.
You seem to know a lot about this Theater. We are interested in renovating this and would like to interview a knowledgeable person. Please let me know if you are interested. Thank you
There was a “For Sale” sign posted at the front of this former theater when I was in the area a couple of months ago. The interior appears to be salvageable and akin in its design to Roxy Theatre in Bremerton. Would love to have a cinema of this style to just show classic 35 & 70 mm films in.
Vacant, looking for work.
Now seems to be a musical instruction studio. This is good, better than vacant.