AKA: Orpheum Theater #7, Downtown, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - performing arts structures - theatres

Designers: Priteca, B. Marcus, Architect (firm); Barnet Marcus Priteca (architect)

Dates: constructed 1926-1927, demolished 1967

6 stories

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506 Stewart Street
Downtown, Seattle, WA 98101

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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. This seventh Orpheum Theatre in Seattle, WA, opened 08/28/1927; originally, the theatre held 2,700 seats and included a grand lobby with three main levels; dressing rooms (each with its own bath) were stacked on five levels on stage left, the floors linked by an elevator; the lighted "Orpheum Vaudeville Photoplays" sign on the roof was one of the largest electrical advertising displays on the Pacific Coast at the time. Looking north on 5th Avenue, the Orpheum sign served as a major landmark for 40 years; it contained 4,000 light bulbs, its "O" alone stood 16 feet high and possessed 250 bulbs. In 1928, the Orpheum #7 had the Grant Apartments, Whitman Furniture Store and Bartells Store #12 as neighbors. According to an advertisement extolling Seattle's construction rate in 1927, the Orpheum Theatre #2 cost $1,200,000 to erect. (See "Seattle 'the City that is ever Building!'" Seattle Daily Times, 07/09/1928, p. 34.)

The Orpheum served as the main venue for the Seattle Symphony during the 1940s and 1950s. John Hamrick operated the Orpheum c. 1955.

The stage was partitioned by bricks from the seating area in the 1960s. The Orpheum underwent some repairs in 1964, just before its sale to the Sterling Theatres chain.

The Orpheum Theatre was demolished in early 1967; The south tower of the Washington Plaza Hotel, which became the Westin Hotel, replaced it on the corner of 5th Avenue and Stewart Street.

PCAD id: 3221