Community Theatre

5441 S. M Street,
Tacoma, WA 98408

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DavidZornig on May 9, 2023 at 8:41 pm

Additional history and crisper version of previously posted Monday, October 6, 1930 photo in Facebook link at bottom.

Photo credit Tacoma Public Library, description credit Tacoma Music History link below.

“This photograph of the Community Theatre, 5441 South “M” St., was taken on Monday, October 6, 1930, after the entire front of the building was heavily damaged by explosives the night before. 3-5 sticks of dynamite were shoved through the bars of the ticket office window. Parts of the ticket booth were blown across the street and door castings, drapes, plaster and glass were blown inward as far as the stage. A loudspeaker and projection machine were also damaged. The bombing caused damage to stores across the street with multiple shattered windows, and buildings and houses in nearby blocks were shaken with minor damage.

Luckily, the building was able to be repaired. After a few more decades of service as a neighborhood movie theater, it stood vacant for a time before being reinvented in the 1980s as the Community World Theater. It was there that Kurt Cobain and his bandmates performed, under a variety of early names for their group, before performing for the first time as Nirvana on March 19, 1988."

DavidZornig on May 9, 2023 at 8:32 pm

Was named Community World Theater from February 1987 through June 1988 hosting roughly 140 live music shows. Extensive history with photos in first link below. Second is a Flickr link with 3 photos, 1 on each side of the 1988 facade photo.

Jake Bottero
Jake Bottero on April 7, 2022 at 4:58 am

It is unfortunately a cult religious hall these days.

rivest266 on July 12, 2021 at 12:27 pm

This closed in 1984. Playtime Cinemas operated it as an adult cinema from 1974-1984.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 20, 2015 at 11:35 am

This item appeared in the May 10, 1924, issue of The Moving Picture World:

“S. R. Stalcup, who is building a Community Theatre at South 56th and M Streets, Tacoma, Wash., in the Yakima Avenue district, has let complete contracts to the Theatre Equipment Co., for projection, 457 seats, stage scenery, decorating, carpets, drapes, etc. The house will cost around $35,000, and will have a handsome marquee elaborating the front.”
The September 13, 1924, issue of Exhibitor’s Trade Review said that the Community Theatre had opened on August 20.

eropel on March 21, 2014 at 10:30 am

This is still owned by a church. In the mid-late 80’s is was called Community World Theater and it hosted many underground/punk shows. Nirvana played here many times under different names before they hit the big time. I was at many shows here during that time.

jake45 on September 7, 2013 at 8:30 pm

I’m sure I watched the x-rated porno movie Deep Throat at this theater in the early 1970’s. Is that possible? The theater was on south m street.

KenLayton on July 10, 2012 at 9:39 pm


Thanks for posting that link to the interior pictures. I had never seen any inside pictures of this theater before.

eropel on July 10, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Here is an interior shot with the opening date listed as August 20th 1924.

eropel on July 10, 2012 at 2:13 pm

This was opened August 20, 1924. In 1930, someone shoved a few sticks of dynamite through the ticket booth window bars and blew the front area to bits. I believe it was part of a Union dispute. I live near this place and it is still a church.

KenLayton on July 8, 2011 at 8:18 pm

One of the former owners of the theater, Layton Stalcup, passed away suddenly on June 1, 2009 at his home in Olympia, Washington at the age of 89. Layton and his brother Ray owned and operated the Community Theater in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on December 18, 2010 at 9:04 am

Open ~1925-~1955? Anyone care to verify the exact dates?

Always looking for more info and more photos.

CSWalczak on December 17, 2010 at 9:59 am

These pictures show that after it closed as a movie theater, it served as a venue for rock music events as the World Community Theater and then became a church: View link