Craterian Theater at The Collier Center for the Performing Arts
23 S. Central Avenue,
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Architects: Frank C. Clark
Functions: Community Arts Center
Styles: Spanish Colonial
Previous Names: Craterian Theater, Craterian Ginger Rogers Theatre.
The Craterian Theater, named after nearby Crater Lake, opened on November 20, 1924 as playhouse seating 1,200. The opening production was a play “The Havoc” plus the grand Wurlitzer organ played by Grace ‘Betty’ Brown. It was erected by J.C. Cooley & P.J. Neff and the theater was leased by George A. Hunt. The building also housed law offices and shops. Later movie projectors were installed for silent film, and vaudeville and theatrical acts were booked, including a very young dancer named Ginger Rogers. In 1928 Hunt sold his lease to Fox Theatres and then bought it back in 1933 after Fox’s bankruptcy.
To bolster the box office, he remodeled the theater, lowered matinee prices to 15c, showed first run films (such as the ‘Thin Man’ series with William Powell & Myna Loy), staged WWII bond drives and numerous community events.
After several other owner/operator changes, more building alterations and the sale of the old Wurlitzer organ, the audience had diminished. By the end of 1985, the historically registered old building had been given to the neighboring Rogue Valley Art Association, with the hope it might ‘foster community theater activities’. After several years, the Craterian Performance Company (CPC), a non-profit volunteer group, was formed to see its conversion to a performing arts center. After $5.2 million in donations by the public, businesses and government agencies, the theater was renovated and opened in 1997.
The Craterian Theater in its name honors the memory of Ginger Rogers, a long-time Oregon ranch owner and resident who first performed at the Craterian Theater in 1926 and again in 1993 for a benefit interview and a showing of her 1942 movie, “Roxie Hart”. It was renamed Craterian Theater at the Collier Center for the Performing Arts on October 27, 2013. It is used for a variety of performing arts and is available to the community for many uses.
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