AKA: Alcazar Theatre, Downtown, Seattle, WA; Star Theatre #2, Downtown, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - performing arts structures - theatres

Designers: [unspecified]

Dates: constructed 1902

2 stories

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1st Avenue and Madison Street
Downtown, Seattle, Seattle WA 98104

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A theatre (in some form) occupied the southeastern corner of 1st Avenue and Madison Street from 1902 until 1970. The first theatre on the site was the Madison Street Theatre, although this was short-lived and replaced by the equally evanescent, Alcazar. Theatres showed various kinds of entertainment--drama, operas, concerts, Vaudeville-- aimed at discrete audiences, and they moved around a lot, changing owners frequently. This can lead to great confusion for historians trying to figure out what theatre occupied what space when. The Star Theatre lasted until 1911, but by 1913, another, larger theatre, the Rivoli, appeared on the site. This larger theatre remained in place until it and the entire block between 1st Avenue, Madison Street, 2nd Avenue and Marion Street was razed in 1970 to erect the Henry M. Jackson Federal Building (1971-1974).

Building History

According to theatre historian Eugene Elliott, this theatre had begun business as the Madison Street Theatre (1902-1903) and then as the Alcazar Theatre (1904-1905). The "Madison Theatre" first appeared in Polk's Seattle City Directory in 1903 ( p. 1406), and reappeared in the 1904 edition as the Alcazar (p. 1423).

The notorious Seattle vaudeville impresario John Considine (1868-1943) operated his Star Theatre #2 from 1905-1911. Considine operated on both sides of the law, early in his career running bars, gambling parlors, prostitution sites and protection rackets, but turning later to staging legitimate theatrical and musical entertainment. The Star Theatre later showed motion pictures and had its name changed to the Owl Theatre and the State Theatre. Raymer's Dictionary of Greater Seattle (1908), indicated that the Star Theatre contained 1,000 seats, but it was located at the "S.E. corner 1st Ave. and Washington." (See Raymer's Dictionary of Greater Seattle, [Seattle: C.D. Raymer and Company, c. 1908]. p. 115-116) Polk's City Directories, for 1905 and 1906, however, recorded the address to have been "Madison SE corner 1st Ave."

The theatre operated as the State Theatre during the 1930s. According to the Dorpat Sherrard Lomont web site, the State changed its name to the Rivoli on10/27/1939, operating under this name until its demolition. In its last years, the Rivoli Follies Theatre featured burlesque entertainment. (See Dorpat Sherrard Lomont, "Seattle Now & Then: Rivoli Follies," published 10/22/2011, accessed 03/07/2017.

Building Notes

Located on the southeast corner of 1st Avenue and Madison Street, The Madison Street/Alcazar/Star Theatre consisted of two discrete parts: a two-floor office/retail building lining 1st Avenue and an adjoining auditorium section that climbed up Madison Street to the east. The office portion was a simple commercial building, with plate-glass fronted retail spaces on the first floor and theatre offices above lit by windows trimmed by segmental arches. Its walls were load-bearing brick, painted white c. 1905. Entrance to the theatre was located on Madison. The auditorium's walls had a stepped parapet that climbed Madison's steep rise.

In 1905, occupants of the first floor retail spaces included the William Emerson's Saloon at 918 1st Avenue, the New German Bakery and Confectionery at 920 1st Avenue, and the U & I Saloon at 922 1st Avenue.

Demolished; Owl Theatre, Downtown, Seattle, WA; State Theatre, Downtown, Seattle, WA

PCAD id: 18214