AKA: Orpheum Theater #2, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Structure Type: built works - performing arts structures - theatres

Designers: Heinsbergen Decorating Company, Interior Designers (firm); Northern Construction Company, Limited (firm); Priteca, B. Marcus, Architect (firm); Stewart, J.W., Building Contractor (firm); Frank Bauman (interior designer/muralist); Antoon B. Heinsbergen (interior designer/muralist); Barnet Marcus Priteca (architect); J. W. Stewart (building contractor)

Dates: constructed 1926-1927

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884 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC Canada

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Building History

Opening 11/07/1927, the Orpheum Theatre #2, designed by Seattle architect B. Marcus Priteca for his patron, Alexander Pantages, replaced the Orpheum Theatre #1, located at 761 Granville Street, known variously as the Orpheum, Vancouver, Lyric, and International Cinema. (It was demolished in 1969.) Pantages was an important early client, giving Priteca his first movie palace commission, the San Francisco Pantages, in 1911. Pantages and Priteca worked together designing theatres between 1911-1929.

Owners, Famous Players, wanted to divide the Orpheum Theatre #2 into a multi-screen facility in 1973, creating a public furor, that resulted in the City of Vancouver's purchase of the building. This was at the start of a powerful historic preservation movement that gripped the Pacific Northwest in the early 1970s.

Building Notes

This large Pantages Theatre seated 2,800, a similar size to the contemporaneous Seattle Orpheum; study sketches for the Orpheum, Vancouver exist; at the time of its construction, it was the largest movie theatre in Canada, and supposedly cost $1.25 million to build, although movie palace operators often inflated building costs to the press to make their newest ventures seem more fascinating.


Rather than allowing its transformation into a multi-plex, the City of Vancouver bought the Orpheum for $7.1 million (combined local, provincial and national governments funds), closing it in 11/1975 for repair and refurbishment. It reopened officially on 04/02/1977 and has been the home of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra since that time. Alterations were made by Vancouver architects, Thompson, Berwick, Pratt and Partners, 1975-1977; at this time, the stage was enlarged to accommodate a full symphony orchestra and a new sound shell was built to improve acoustics for orchestral music; the revived Orpheum Theatre was located on what became the Granville Mall's "Theatre Row." Anthony Heinsbergen, of the Los Angeles theatre design company, who had worked on the Orpheum Theatre in 1926, returned 50 years later to participate on the venue's restoration. A Smithe Street entrance was added to the Orpheum Theatre #2 in 1983.

PCAD id: 5246