Eugene Movie Theaters


Early History

Eugene, Oregon, was incorporated as a city in 1862. Within a few years, the first theater opened, Lane’s Hall, which was later known as Lane’s Opera House. Rhinehart’s Opera House opened in 1884 with 500 seats. In 1894 it was sold and renamed the Parker Opera House. These early theaters hosted live theater performances, musical acts, dancers, and novelty performers. Eugene was a convenient stop on the west coast for traveling theater companies on their way between San Francisco and Portland.

At the turn of the 20th century, Eugene had a population of about 4,000 people, and a solid economic base in lumber, textile mills, factories, and agriculture. L.N. Roney, R.A. Booth, and R.L. Chambers saw room for another well-appointed theater in Eugene. They filed articles of incorporation for the Eugene Opera House in 1901, and set about building the Eugene Theatre Block at 490 Willamette St. The Eugene Theatre opened there to great fanfare in 1903.

The theaters in Eugene clustered at the northern end of Willamette St., all within a few blocks of each other. Willamette St. was the main commercial artery downtown and right on the streetcar line, so it made sense to have theaters in close proximity to other stores and easily accessible via public transportation.

Street addresses in Eugene changed in 1913, shifting the street numbers by about two-three blocks. For example, in 1907 the Eugene Theatre is listed at 490 Willamette St. in the city directory, but the address is 676 Willamette in the 1914 city directory, although the business itself didn’t move. Consequently, the theater profiles in Hometown Show will often include more than one street address to reflect the change in numbering.