Structure Type: built works - performing arts structures - theatres

Designers: Herzog, Harry A., Architect (firm); Priteca, B. Marcus, Architect (firm); Harold Albert Herzog (architect); Barnet Marcus Priteca (architect)

Dates: constructed 1939-1940

2 stories

835 Wall Street
Downtown, Bend, OR 97701


This small movie theatre, located on Bend's main commercial street, had residual Art Deco and Streamline Moderne features, and was built in an astonishingly short period, three months in 1939-1940. It featured a small balcony and seated 998 when it opened on 03/06/1940. Harry A. Herzog and B. Marcus Priteca were the architects.

Building History

The Tower Theatre in Bend opened in 03/1940 and continued as a single-screen movie theatre until 1994, when it closed. After ownership changed in the early 1990s, the theatre's condition deteriorated. Local activists saved the theatre from conversion into office/retail space just after it closed as a movie venue. They managed to keep the lights on and staged theatrical productions here for two years, 1994-1996. In order to stabilize the building, the City of Bend bought it in 1995, but lacked the money needed to renovate it fully. A non-profit group called the "Tower Theatre Foundation" formed in 07/1997 and settled on a price of $445,000 to purchase the property from the City of Bend in 2001; the foundation paid $145,000 up front, and agreed to pay the city $6,000 per year to retire the rest of the debt. During 2002-2004, the group paid to have the theatre refurbished. It reopened as a performing arts center on 01/30/2004.

Building Notes

In 2016, the Tower Theatre employed 17 people, 8 of whom worked full-time, and utilized 20 volunteers.


The $4 million 2002-2004 renovation added about 3,198 square feet to the interior, increasing its size from 10,432 square feet to 13,360. The theatre's lobby was enlarged and a new concessions area created. The Tower Theatre Foundation enhanced portions of the basement to provide a large orchestra pit and it ordered new seating. The number of seats dropped by more than one-half, from 998 to 4. The foundation also equipped the theatre with all new lighting, sound and projection equipment. The firm of DKA Architecture & Design supervised the 2002-2004 redesign, led by John Kvapil. Kvapil collaborated with the Kirby Nagelhout Construction Company when renovation began in 11/2002.

As at many historic theatres, customers pay a surcharge to help offset maintenance expenses. In 2011-2012, this included one dollar to the price of each ticket; by 2016, this surcharge had escalated from $2 to $3 to maintain a fund for repairs.

About $50,000 worth of repairs were made to the Tower Theatre between 07/17/2016 and 07/22/2017. According to the Bend Bulletin, "The work includes updating and repairing the neon of the iconic marquee sign, cleaning and resealing travertine marble, and fresh outdoor and indoor wood stain and paint." Additionally, new carpeting was set to have been installed in 09/2016. (See Hayley Sanchez, Bend Bulletin, "Tower Theatre gets first renovations in over a decade," published 07/23/2016, accessed 06/07/2017.)

PCAD id: 21291