Bijou Theatre

1904-1907

489 Willamette St., Eugene, Oregon


One of the most popular names for vaudeville and movie houses during the nickelodeon era was "Bijou," meaning "jewel," so it is no surprise that Eugene had its own. The contemporary Bijou Cinema in Eugene, established in 1980, is heir to that tradition, although the two theaters aren't related to each other except in name.

Although "bijou"" suggests a space with ornamentation and grandiosity befitting the fantastic world of cinema, the early Bijou Theatre in Eugene was located in a plain storefront at 489 Willamette St., across the street from the much larger Eugene Theatre at 490 Willamette. One newspaper review commented on how small the stage was to accommodate a full theatrical performance. In 1902 the space held a plumbing business and a barber.

489 Willamette St., 1902. Digital Sanborn Maps

The Bijou ran ads and placed little news items in the Eugene Daily Guard to promote its “high-class vaudeville” and “Bijouoscope” moving pictures. Admission was 10¢, twice as much as a typical nickelodeon theater during this time. There were “gold watch giveaways” to help draw in audiences. Nonetheless, the Bijou had to close in early 1905 because manager Mayo Evans couldn’t cover his operating expenses due to insufficient audience numbers. In 1906, prices went as high as 25¢, 35¢, and 50¢ for theatrical performances.


Eugene Daily Guard, 22 Jan. 1905, p. 4
Eugene Daily Guard, 31 Mar. 1906, p. 8
Eugene Daily Guard, 21 Dec. 1905, p. 4
Eugene Daily Guard, 23 Jan. 1905, p. 1