AKA: Whiteside Theater, Downtown, Corvallis, OR

Structure Type: built works - performing arts structures - theatres

Designers: Ryan, Henderson, Architect (firm); Henderson Ryan (architect/building contractor)

Dates: constructed 1921-1922

361 SW Madison Avenue
Downtown, Corvallis, OR 97333-4703

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Seattle architect Henderson Ryan (1856-1927) produced the design for George (born 1874) and Samuel (born 1878) Whiteside, natives of Burlington, IA, who, by 1908, operated a theatre for films and other performances in Corvallis, OR. They went on to found the Crystal Theatre, Majestic Theatre and, perhaps, the Idlewile Theatre in the city before opening the more grand, Italian Renaissance Style Whiteside. Subsequently, they also reconstructed a garage to become the State Theatre in 1931. According to historian Chapman, "Sam and George Whiteside built the Whiteside Theatre in 1922 in honor of their father. The Whiteside family owned the theatre building until 1985, when Vida Carlson Whiteside (whom Samuel, Jr., married in 1915) sold the property to Tim Moyer Cinemas, Inc. The Whiteside family was involved in the Whiteside Theatre's activities for a total of 63 years, and in Corvallis' theatre entertainment business for over 77 years." (See J. Sanders Chapman, "History of the Whiteside Theatre,"Accessed 02/25/2013.) The Whiteside Theatre closed in 2002.

The 1135-seat Whiteside Theater in Corvallis, OR, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places; it was designed for film exhibition, but could also accommodate live performances. In 1984, J. Sanders Chapman produced an historic resource inventory and described the building: "The Whiteside Theatre (70' x 100') was built in 1922 in the Italian Renaissance style of architecture. The brick structure rests on a foundation of solid reinforced concrete. There is a partial basement beneath the building. The front façade is composed of over 15,000 pressed concrete cream colored face bricks and is embellished with cast "stone" and plaster ornamentation. Featured are a cornice decorated with a reticulated lattice motif, a central cartouche above a mask (which rest upon a central decorative arch) and two masks atop the cornice on both ends. Other decorative features include art-glass windows in arched surrounds with cast keystones, basket weave panels below the two cornice masks, and two plaster quatrefoils with fleur-de-lis on either side of the central decorative arch. Small quatrefoils with shields are found directly below the cornice upon projecting brick strips. Garden boxes at the base of these strips are no longer featured." (See J. Sanders Chapman, "History of the Whiteside Theatre,"Accessed 02/25/2013.) Chapman referred to the Whiteside as Oregon's second grandest theatre in 1922, although he (or she) did not indicate his pick for number one.

The Whiteside Theatre was destroyed by fire on 10/19/1927, and rebuilt. Chapman stated about the rebuilding process: "On October 19, 1927 the interior of the Whiteside Theatre was gutted by fire. It was estimated that $50,000 worth of damage occurred. The fire was believed to have started in the work room backstage. The interior was heavily damaged except for the foyer, restrooms in the mezzanine, and the business offices. Flames, smoke, and heat rolled along the ceiling of the auditorium and destroyed the balcony. All seats in the balcony were charred. Chunks of plaster and terra cotta dropped from the walls. The first 15 rows of seats on the main floor were also ruined; however, the seats and carpet under the balcony on the first floor were in good condition. The grand Wurlitzer organ had to be replaced. The console was ruined and the pipe installation damaged. Fifty patrons were in the theatre at the time of the fire and two women in the restroom had to climb out through the front windows over the marquee since the stairs were hidden from view. There was no fire alarm turned in but when the firemen came (from the fire station across the street!) there was a delay in manning hoses and they had to break down the stage door. The theatre was completely redone inside 'from rafters to basement' and reopened on January 2, 1928." (See J. Sanders Chapman, "History of the Whiteside Theatre,"Accessed 02/25/2013.) Another fire swept through the Whiteside in 10/1936, originating in the plenum.

PCAD id: 18324