AKA: New Pantages Theaater, Downtown, Seattle, WA; Palomar Theatre, Downtown, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - performing arts structures - theatres

Designers: Pederson, Hans, Building Contractor (firm); Priteca, B. Marcus, Architect (firm); Hans Pederson Sr. (building contractor); Barnet Marcus Priteca (architect)

Dates: constructed 1914-1915, demolished 1965

6 stories

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1300 3rd Avenue
Downtown, Seattle, WA 98101

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The Pantages Theatre #2 occupied the northeast corner of 3rd Avenue and University Street.


Greek-born theatre owner Alexander Pantages started his vaudeville theatre empire in Seattle in 1902, and this theatre-office complex became his base of operations in 1915. The Pantages Theatre opened with a three-part program on 07/19/1915, including a French comedienne, Juliette Dika, a minstrel show, and other vaudeville musical, dramatic and acrobatic acts. The inaugural show also included a "mechanical reproduction" of the 05/07/1915 sinking of the H.M.S. Lusitania by a German u-boat, a significant instigation by the Germans drawing America into World War I.

Building History

The Pantages Theatre #2 was built on the former site of the Plymouth Congregational Church #2 at 3rd Avenue and University Street. University Properties (UNICO), the property management arm of the University of Washington, owned the land on which Alexander Pantages obtained a lease to build the headquarters of his entertainment empire, a 6-story office building and a 1,418-seat theatre. (UNICO also owned the neighboring Cobb and Stuart Buildings, part of what was known as the "Metropolitan Tract.") It appears that a time gap separated the date on which Priteca designed the Seattle Pantages #2 and its construction, and this may have been due to the rapid expansion that the chain was undergoing at this time.

The Seattle Star newspaper said of the theatre's opening on Monday, 07/19/1915: “After a year spent in construction, the beautiful new Pantages theatre, at Third ave. and University st., will be opened Monday. The playhouse, the six-story office building, of which it is a part, and the site, represent an investment in Seattle by Manager Alexander Pantages of approximately $850,000. The doors of the new house will be thrown open at 2:30 p.m. Monday. While a matinee performance will be given, as usual, the theatre will not be formally opened until evening, when federal, state and city officials and a large company of prominent Seattle citizens and their families will be Mr. Pantages’ guests.” (See “$850,000 Pantages Theatre Will Be Opened on Monday,” Seattle Star, 07/17/1915, p. 2.)The article stated how the new theatre and office building was a vote of confidence in the growing city of Seattle, and in the permanency of vaudeville as an art form in particular.

The building also stood as a boosterish emblem of the growth of Seattle businesses and the skill of the city's designer and trademen. The Star stated: “It is a matter of considerable pride with the local manager that this splendid structure, which bears his name, was built entirely of made-in Washington products. The theatre was planned by Mr. Pantages, designed by B. Marcus Priteca, the well-known Seattle architect, and built by Hans Pederson, the veteran general contractor.”(See “$850,000 Pantages Theatre Will Be Opened on Monday,” Seattle Star, 07/17/1915, p. 2.)

The theatre operated as the Pantages from about 1915 until 1936, when it became known as "The Palomar."

The Puget Sound Theatre and Organ Society's fine web site, indicated that the Pantages #2 had also been named the "Mayfair" and "Rex" during its existence. This does not appear to have been the case, as it was called the Palomar when it closed in 1965. The Rex Theatre operated from c. 1917 until at least 1920 at 2nd Avenue and University Street. (See Rex Theatre adverstisement, Seattle Times, 01/25/1920, p. 6.)

Vaudeville acts continued to play the Palomar in 1947, well after they disappeared elsewhere. In the late 1940s-early 1950s, well-known African-American musicians, such as Billy Eckstine, Bobby Tucker and Sammy Davis, Jr., played at the Palomar Theatre.

Building Notes

The adjoining steel and concrete office building had narrow proportions to allow the theatre to expand on most of the interior portion of the lot facing University Street. The theatre displayed a spare, elegant classicism that distinguished much of Priteca's work.

The writer for the Seattle Star described the theatre: "“Modern renaissance style is followed in the exterior of the structure, while the interior is treated after the French renaissance. One of the exterior features is a magnificent colonnade on the University st. side. It is a house of exits in the truest sense of the expression, no less than 14 means of egress having been provided. There is a double entrance leading to the lobby. The latter has been treated in strong colors in contrast to the quiet and subdued tones of the interior of the playhouse. The foyer is beautifully paneled, as are the retiring rooms. The interior color scheme is a blending of ivories, old rose and old gold, the draperies and hangings being of the last mentioned tone. From the foyer two wide staircases lead to a mezzanine floor, an innovation to be used as a promenade and lounging room. The theatre seats about 1,800. In the new house only the boxes, loges and several hundred seats will be reserved.” (See “$850,000 Pantages Theatre Will Be Opened on Monday,” Seattle Star, 07/17/1915, p. 2.)

The New York Times published a short obituary of Juliette Dika, who performed at the Pantages Theatre #2's inaugural show: “Carmel, Calif., Aug. 31--Juliette Dika, former comedienne, who was said to have appeared in the original ‘Red Mill’ in 1906, died here yesterday at the age of 78. She was born in France and came to the United States when she was 15. Miss Dika was seen in vaudeville from 1915 to 1939.” (See “Juliette Dika,” New York Times, 09/01/1954, p. 27.)

A postcard, "Pantages Theatre, Cobb and Stuart Buildings, Seattle" No. 16172, was published by The Puget Sound News Company, Seattle WA, showing the theatre and office building c. 1920.

David Naylor, in his American Picture Palaces The Architecture of Fantasy, (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1981, p. 216), listed the Pantages Theatre #2 in Seattle, WA, as having had 1,418 seats.


Alexander Pantages supervised a large-scale remodeling of this theatre's interior in 1925.


Paul Dorpat, in his article, "From Palace to Parking Garage" indicated that the Pantages Theatre #2 closed on 05/02/1965 and its demolition occurred later in 1965. (See Paul Dorpat, "From Palace to Parking Garage," Seattle Times Pacific Northwest, 08/30/2009, p. 31.) The UNICO Properties parking garage was finished on the site in 1966.

PCAD id: 3211