Folly Theatre


572 Willamette St./836 Willamette St., Eugene, Oregon

Mrs. Martha E. Watson had already been in the local movie house business for three years when she opened the Folly in April 1910 at 572 Willamette St. (The address changed to 836 Willamette in 1913 when the street numbering system changed in Eugene). This time Mrs. Watson went into a partnership with long-time Eugene cigar man Julius Goldsmith. As reported in the Eugene Daily Guard, Mrs. Watson, proprietor of the Dreamland and Electric theaters, purchased the wooden building housing the Electric and its lot with the intention of building a one-story brick theater building on the site. The new building adjoined Julius Goldsmith’s existing one-story brick building. The two structures were combined to house the theater, Goldsmith’s wholesale tobacco company, and Blanchard & Naylor’s retail cigar store. The new theater became the Folly, incorporated May 26, 1910 with $3,000 capital stock, and owned jointly by Mrs. Watson, Goldsmith, and investor G. Nettle.

The theater took up the middle of the building in a space measuring 65 x 44 with 400 seats.

572 Willamette St., Eugene, 1912. Digital Sanborn Maps

The Folly provided a mix of movies and vaudeville acts in its programming. One night included a musical program by MISS BARROWS and MISS GOODHUE, “the silver-voiced singers,” along with Biograph and Selig short films, a Mary Pickford/D.W. Griffith short feature called “White Roses,” and four other short films. Admission varied from 5¢-25¢, depending on the content of the show and whether it was a matinee or evening. The program changed daily; “WE DON’T RUN REPEATERS” promised one ad from 1910.

The Folly ran regular ads in the Eugene Daily Guard. The promotions boasted of excellent ventilation and daily disinfection during the summer months, and “a warm and comfortable” house during the winter.

In June 1915, J.J. (Joseph) Bryan purchased a half-ownership in the Folly with Mrs. Watson. Bryan was the former owner of the Grand, Electric, and Bell theaters in Springfield, and the Aloha, (later the Savoy,) in Eugene. He and Mrs. Watson remodeled and expanded the Folly, taking over the cigar store in order to install additional seating—bringing the capacity up to 675. They also created a large, dramatic arch over the theater entrance, and ordered a pipe organ. All together, the renovations cost between $4,000-$5,000.

The newly renovated theater was re-opened to Eugene movie fans in July 1915 as the Oregon theatre.

Eugene Daily Guard, 28 Sept. 1909, p. 5
Eugene Daily Guard, 29 Apr. 1910, p. 12
Eugene Daily Guard, 30 Apr. 1910, p. 9
Eugene Daily Guard, 26 May 1910, p. 7
Eugene Daily Guard, 29 June 1910, p. 5
Eugene Daily Guard, 4 Jan. 1911, p. 4
Eugene Daily Guard, 5 Jan. 1911, p. 5
Eugene Daily Guard, 6 Dec. 1912, p. 8
Eugene Daily Guard, 5 Feb. 1915, p. 8
Eugene Daily Guard, 22 Apr. 1915, p. 8
Eugene Daily Guard, 23 Apr. 1915, p. 6
Eugene Daily Guard, 17 June 1915, p. 2
Eugene Daily Guard, 10 June 1915, p. 1
Eugene Daily Guard, 10 June 1910, p. 3
Eugene Daily Guard, 8 July 1915, p. 6