there was a Silent Movie Theatre and Vaudeville show
in the Stayton Garrage (Yes, with 2 r's) built in 1910 which is
now Cartwrights Building with Cartwrights Music Repair and Kens
Radio Station KENC AM 1620 on Third Avenue across the creek
from Harold's Jewelry. The owner, Floyd Robertson, also used a
tent to show movies at the corner where the Drug Store and Stayton
used to be located, as well as a tent to show movies at the location
of where the Police Station is now located. After the Stayton
Theatre opened on the corner of 2nd & E. Water St. (photo below),
the theatre ended at the Garrage. Eventually, The Stayton Theatre
was moved to the Masonic Hall and a Mill City man renamed it Star
Theatre. Later, Ed Keech built the Star Theatre where the Police
now stands and the Hall theatre ended.
When young George Schlies heard that a great vaudeville
coming to the new Star Theatre, he couldn’t wait to ante up
his pennies for admission.
Schlies and his cousin, Laurence, had chopped wood, earning 25 cents
each to catch a glimpse of the headliner, billed only as “Polson.”
The vaudeville act was booked to attract throngs to the May 1,
1912 opening night of the Stayton Theatre, allegedly built in
30 days for $600
by W. W. Weddle for owner Frank Lesley. Ted Rizzo was manager of
Schlies and his cousin actually missed the vaudeville act in the
then new theater. They had spent some of their 25 cents on a package
of gum, figuring on a 10-cent admission price. They were wrong.
That opening performance was jacked to a full quarter, all the money
the lads had earned.
But when vaudeville gave way to cinematic features, many youngsters
for years to come were all too happy to pack the theater and spend
their cash on popcorn and Milk Duds. Going to the movies was good,
clean fun – an activity that could help today’s youngsters
from getting into any more mischief than tossing a few popcorn kernels
at one another. The photo above left is from 1922 when the street
was about to be paved. The theatre is the building with the arch
opening. Photo to the right is from 1941. Notice the
paved road and new face.
The theatre has a history of owners, including Stayton Mail publisher
Lawrence Spraker who bought the theatre in 1937 from then owner
Ed Keech. In 1946, Spraker took on a partner, Marcel Van Driesche,
High School teacher and coach. They built the new Star Cinema of
today. The original Star Theatre was torn down within a year and
a Scio Banker built a bank in its place. The bank eventually moved
to 2nd St. and the City Hall moved in. It is now the Police Station.
In 1977, Van Driesche leased the cinema to Joe and Debbie Janota.
And in 1987, the cinema was sold to the city of Stayton, who leased
it to Jim Lange until the Fall of 2000.
Opening day was Tuesday April 5th, 1949 at 7pm. Although, they did
have an earlier showing for the younger crowd at 3:45pm which was
free to students. The projectionist was Burdette Rice. Click on
image of Van and Spraker for more images and info. Over 1000 people
attended the grand opening!
The formal opening of the theatre was held at 7pm
when the curtains were released by Fred Camp, president of the
Stayton Chamber of Commerce, who cut the ribbon to open the handsome
gold curtains. A color guard from the American Legion Post 58 presented
the colors and the audience was led in the pledge to the flag
by Blynn humphreys.
M. Van Driesche, manager, introduced Clifford J.
Likes who gave the address of welcome, and distinguished guests
Entertainment was furnished by Wilbur Berry and William
Ciuickshank, who presented piano and accordion duets, and Ray Mac,
the "champion filddle player" of South Dakota, and his troupe from
Congratulatory telegrams were received from Jeannette
MacDonald, Lloyd Nolan and Claude Jarman Jr. stars of the movie
"The Sun Comes Up", and from Robert Taylor, June Allyson and Janet
Representative of motion picture distributors of
Portland were present for the opening. Introduced were Archie Holt
of Universal-International Pictures; Murry Mickelson, Metro-Goldwyn
Other film row representatives who called earlier
or later in the evening were Dick Lang, manager of RKO; Wayne Theriot,
manager and Frank Doty, Paramount Pictures; Mr. and Mrs. Ken Septka,
20th Centruy Fox; Ed D. Cruea, manager of Monogram Pictures.
Also Present from Portland were Phil Blake of B.F.
Shearer company; and Mr. and Mrs. Pete Sabo of the Portland Motion
Picture Machine Co. Roy Trask, of the Lyle P. Bartholomew firm
of Salem, architect for the building.
Former owners introduced were George Keech and Harry
Humphrey's. Also presented were Mrs. Mae Spraker and Mrs. Ruth
VanDreische and Mr. and Mrs. Lewis M. Keirsey (Alice Spraker).
first film showing at the new Star Theatre was “The Sun Comes Up,” starring Lloyd Nolan. The homey
feature was followed by an array of screen favorites, including
“Mother Wore Tights” with Betty Grable and Dan Dailey
playing the mom and dad who lived their life and love on the Star
Theatre screen. “Southern Yankee” with Red Skelton in
one of his funniest roles as the spy for both sides who made a three-ring
circus of the Civil War followed.
photo shows the new Star Cinema next to the old Star Theatre. The
Star Theatre was torn down and eventually was replaced with today's
Police Station. Click images for large view.
more people started owning this picture tube box called the television
between 1955 and 1960, so the attendance dropped a bit.
Television was invented in 1927 by Philo Farnsworth...... In 1948
Television provides fame and fortune for the hosts of two variety
shows debuting: Texaco Star Theater with Milton Berle, and Toast
of the Town, hosted by Ed Sullivan. Berle soon comes to be known
as "Mr. Television," while Ed Sullivan introduces the
country to various musical and comedy acts.
Here is a link to Cinema
Movie History. It's worth a visit!
What was happening when the theater
opened in 1949?
the theatre is ran by another couple who have brought it back
darkness and silence. They remodeled it, upgraded the sound to
Digital DTS Sound and are keeping the ticket and concession prices
low enough for everyone. They want you to experience a movie theatre
they way they used to be. Fun, family friendly, affordable and
Click on these images to see Lebanon's Kuhn and
Park Theatres, as well as the Scio Theatre movie listings from
many years ago...
Click Image Above
Click Image Above
Cinema Shines Bright Again!