170 High Street SE,
170 High Street SE,Salem, OR 97301
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May 26th, 1926 grand opening ad in photo section.
The Theatre Historical Society last visit there was July 17th, 2001.
I’ve been a fan of the theater organ for many years, but had been out-of-touch with that community for some 10 years when I decided late one night in early 2003 to sniff around the Internet a bit and see what I could find about organs still alive… It so happens I found this theater, at the time 25 miles south of where I lived… A couple weeks later, I was there, watching a silent film and listening to “live pipes” for the first time in a good while!
I saw the “before/after” of the major renovation that took place in the summer of 2003… Before, it was in decent shape, but not so great… After, the place is marvelous!
Now I’m in the Bay Area again… The Elsinore will always be one of the things I miss most about Oregon…
A few 2011 photo can be seen here, here, here and here.
I haven’t been in Salem for decades, however I seem to remember a theater across the street from the Elsinore called the Grand. It was being used for wrestling matches at the time. (1960s). I don’t find it listed on this site. Anyone have any info?
Such fond memories of this place! I recall standing in line during the first week of Star Wars and paying the “special” price of $2.50, a buck more than usual, to get in. Many great films there when I was a teen: Quest for Fire, Raiders, Platoon, The Mission. In the early 1980s it was the best place to take a special date because it was big, clean, and “fancy,” especially compared to the crappy Moyer theaters in the malls. I always wanted to sit in the loges but the balcony wasn’t bad. I’m delighted to see it’s been restored and will look forward to visiting sometime in the future when I make it back to Oregon again.
What a beautifully unique theatre, inside and out. I am so glad it has been restored and is in use.
This is a 1930 photo:
Storm damage, October 1962:
The principal architect of Salem’s Elsinore Theatre was Ellis F. Lawrence, with associate Fred S. Allyn, both of the firm of Lawrence and Holford. Lawrence was later to become the founding dean of the University of Oregon School of Architecture.
Here is a link with some photos. You have to browse through a few pages first:
Oh, comments are more than appreciated!—
All of the above is very true AND the theatre contains a magnificent 3/25 Wurlitzer with all of the goodies on it. It makes a terrific statement in the building. There are open archways between the lodge balcony and the lobby so the sound pours right into that space! The Elsinore is like a time machine. It was never badly mangled or abused during its life and was in a pretty good state for a 70 year old building when the restoration began in earnest. Restorations like the Elsinore’s are exceedingly rare. If anybody reading this gets the chance to make it to Salem, Oregon VISIT THIS THEATRE. You WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!! If you call ahead there is a good chance the house manager/house organist Rick Parks will fire up the organ and play it for you. Not to be missed!!
I should also mention that most, if not all, of the pictures currently found on the Elsinore’s website are from BEFORE the completion of the theatre’s total restoration. It now looks brand-new inside, and as near as possible to the way it opened in 1926.
This is a WONDERFUL theatre! Anyone who visits the Northwest and likes movie palaces should make sure to visit.
The theatre auditorium and lobby were both recently fully restored, and both look magnificent.
I was just there today (I live 25 miles North and visit often!) to see a concert on the mighty Wurlitzer by world-renowned classic and theatre organist Jonas Nordwall, and it was great!
Many silent-movie programs are scheduled from fall thru late spring, as well as classic talkies and live shows of all kinds.
Check the website for info, history and the like.