AKA: Orpheum Theatre #4, Downtown, Seattle, WA; Orpheum Theater #4, Times Square, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - performing arts structures - theatres

Designers: [unspecified]

Dates: constructed 1908

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3rd Avenue and James Street
Downtown, Seattle, WA 98104

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Building History

Impresario John Considine (1868–1943) owned the Coliseum Theatre #1, when it opened in 1908 on the southeast corner of 3rd Avenue and James Street. The name was quickly changed to the Orpheum Theatre between 1908-1911. (See Polk's Seattle City Directory, 1909, [Seattle, Polk's Seattle Directory Company, 1909], p. 1112.) Considine, arrived in Seattle in 1889, coming to town as an actor. He began working at a box house theatre, the People's Theatre, and eventually owned it. It became a long-time fixture in Pioneer Square. Considine, disciplined and upright in his personal tastes, nevertheless, saw no problem in profiting from the sins of others. He became the owner of gambling houses, bars and box houses in Pioneer Square by the early 1890s, and developed significant political influence, particularly with the city's police force. The Panic of 1893 hurt the entertainment industry, and forced him to relocate to Spokane until 1897, when he returned to Seattle and reconstructed his gambling/liquor/sex empire. Considine would later branch into "legitimate" entertainment, building a chain of vaudeville houses nationally, competing with the equally colorful impresario, Alexander Pantages.

The Orpheum returned to the Coliseum name briefly in 1911 before closing and being demolished.

As the Orpheum Theatre, it was the fourth to be so named in Seattle from 1885-1911. According to historian Eugene Clinton Elliott in 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.

A later Coliseum Theatre, designed by B. Marcus Priteca and opened at 500 Pike Street in 1916.

Building Notes

According to historian Paul Dorpat, the Coliseum Theatre #1 was, when built in 1903, the largest perfornace hall west of Chicago, IL, holding 2,600. It was notable for its unusual steeply pitched mansard roof.

Demolished; the King County Courthouse was built on the property once occupied by the Coliseum Theatre #1. The Coliseum #1 was itself built on the burned remains of the Henry Yesler House #2, which burned 01/01/1901.

PCAD id: 3220