Bell Theater

111 E. Holly Street,
Bellingham, WA 98225

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Additional Info

Functions: Café

Previous Names: Bell Motion Picture Show, Rialto Theatre

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Bell Theater

The Bell Theater dates back to 1908. In 1913 a Kimball organ was installed. In 1920 the Bell Theater was one of three theaters listed as being operated by W.S. Quimby. The other two theaters were the Star Theater and the Liberty Theater. It closed in November 1921 to be remodeled and it was renamed Rialto Theatre, but it closed in August 1922 and was converted into a café.

Part of the building is occupied by the Horseshoe Café.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 20, 2022 at 5:23 pm

A history of some of Bellingham’s theaters on this web page says that the Bell Show opened as a storefront nickelodeon in 1908. It was acquired by W. S. Quimby in 1910 and remodeled with a sloping floor and the admission price was raised to ten cents. The house was renamed the Rialto Theatre in 1921, but closed permanently in 1922.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 27, 2022 at 3:30 am
    1. Quimby’s acquisition of the Bell Theatre was noted in the April 1, 1910 issue of Motography. The item also said that the Bell had been the first theater in Bellingham to make movies a specialty of the house.
Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 27, 2022 at 2:27 pm

The nomination form for the Downtown Bellingham Historic District says that the historic address of the Bell Theatre was 111 E. Holly Street. The Horseshoe Café now occupies both that building and the adjacent building at 113 E. Holly and uses the address 113.

The form also has information about the end of the Bell Theatre: “In November of 1921, the Bell Theater was closed for remodeling and announced it would open under a new name, ‘The Rialto.’ In 1922, the Rialto is listed at the address, Al Finkelstein manager (formerly of the Liberty). Harry Dawson applied for permits for exterior and interior repairs worth $1,000 on the ‘Bell Theater Building’ in August of 1922 and opened his café there.”

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