AKA: Hippodrome Theatre, Downtown, Portland, OR; Orpheum Building, Orpheum Theatre, Downtown, Portland, OR

Structure Type: built works - performing arts structures - theatres

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

Dates: constructed 1912-1913, demolished 1976

2 stories

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Washington Street and Park Street
Downtown, Portland, OR 97205

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Building History

This theatre operated as the Empress in 1913-1917 and was renamed in 1917 as the "Hippodrome." The Hippodrome operated between 1917 and 1925.

The Hippodrome's interior was demolished and replaced with the Pantages Theatre between 1926 and 1929, It became the Orpheum between 1929 and 1976.

The name Hippodrome derived from Greek, "hippo" (meaning "horse,") and "drome," ("course"). In 1905, a huge, 5,300-seat theatre opened in New York called the Hippodrome, and may have popularized this name for theatre usage across the US. The New York Hippodrome, one of the largest theatrical venues of its day, closed in 1939.

Building Notes

The building had a long two-story portion facing the street and taller, gable-roofed auditorium space behind it. The front portion appeared to have offices on the second floor, with stores below; the whole building was wood-framed with wood siding. A tall, glazed, quasi-Palladian window illuminated what probably was a lobby space. Entry was gained beneath a barrel-vaulted canopy.


The interior of the Hippodrome Theatre was demolished. A new theatre, the Orpheum, designed by Seattle architect, B. Marcus Priteca, (1889-1971), for the Pantages chain, was erected in its place in 1926. Both were housed within a larger, mixed-use office building at 759 SW Broadway.


The 5-story office building housing the Empress Theatre (and the theatre itself) was demolished in 07/1976; a Nordstrom Department Store later operated on the Pioneer Courthouse Square property. In 1976, the office building was known as the "Orpheum Building."

PCAD id: 6164