AKA: President Theater, Downtown, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - performing arts structures - theatres

Designers: Dow and Company, Contractors and Builders (firm); Kingsley, William, Architect (firm); Matthew Dow (building contractor); William Kingsley (architect)

Dates: constructed 1911, demolished 1949

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Seattle, WA

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This Seattle Orpheum Theatre operated between 1911-1916. It was the fifth "Orpheum" building listed in Appendix I of Elliott's A History of Variety-Vaudeville in Seattle from the Beginning to 1914, (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1944), p. 67. Seattle impresario John Considine (1868-1943) and his politically-connected New York partner, Timothy D. "Big Tim" Sullivan (1862-1913) opened this Orpheum Theatre on 05/05/1911; Sullivan and Considine commissioned architect William Kingsley (d. 1929) to design it, and spent about $500,000 on its construction. Carl Reiter served as its manager from its opening until at least 1913. The Orpheum #5 lasted at this location between 5-10 years, when it moved to its sixth location at 5th Avenue and Stewart Street by 1921 at least. In 1927, a huge new theatre, the Orpheum #7, was built on the same spot, 1900 5th Avenue. The Orpheum #5 changed its name to the "President Theatre" later in its existence. The theatre ceased operations around World War II, and was leased as a warehouse for a short time before being razed in 1949. Matthew Dow served as the building contractor for the Orpheum #5. The Bell Decorating Company produced much of the interior decor, supervising ornate plaster work by independent contractor John Dines and Seattle-based Architectural Decorating Company. The Frederick and Nelson Department Store ordered the auditorium furniture.

According to Eugene Clinton Elliott, A History of Variety-Vaudeville in Seattle from the Beginning to 1914, there were five separate theatres that had the name "Orpheum" before 1914. (See "Eugene Clinton Elliott, A History of Variety-Vaudeville in Seattle from the Beginning to 1914, Appendix I, [Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1944], p.66-67.) While the Orpheum Theatre #5 at 919 3rd Avenue (designed by William Kingsley) was also operating, Polk's Seattle City Directories between 1918-1920 also listed the former Moore Theatre at 1934 2nd Avenue as the "Orpheum Theatre." (The Moore/Orpheum became the sixth theatre to have the Orpheum name.) Between 1885-1927, the name "Orpheum" was applied to a total of seven different theatrical venues in Seattle. The seventh was a design by B. Marcus Priteca (1889-1971) was located at 505 Stewart Street, erected in 1926-1927. In 1912, plans were announced in the Seattle Times that the Orpheum Vaudeville Circuit would expand west, building four large theatres in Dallas, TX, Houston, TX, San Antonio, TX, and Fort Worth, TX, before the end of 1913. This would facilitate the flow of big-name talent to West Coast Orpheum outlets it was thought. J. Willis Sayre wrote in the Times: "This [move into TX] would give the Orpheum a new and unbroken routing for its attractions from Los Angeles to New Orleans." He concluded that the chain's planned push west "...would mean still better attractions in Seattle and all other Orpheum cities, as the inducement to big acts will be all the greater." (See J. Willis Sayre, "Orpheum Circuit to Expand into Texas," Seattle Daily Times, 08/24/1912, p. 14.)


PCAD id: 18360