Bagdad Theatre

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Bagdad Theatre
Portland Historic Landmark[1]
Photograph of a tile-roofed building with a large marquee on an urban street corner
View from across Hawthorne Boulevard
Location 3708–26 SE Hawthorne Boulevard
Portland, Oregon
Coordinates 45°30′42″N 122°37′32″W / 45.511803°N 122.625440°W / 45.511803; -122.625440Coordinates: 45°30′42″N 122°37′32″W / 45.511803°N 122.625440°W / 45.511803; -122.625440
Built 1927
Architect Thomas & Mercier
Architectural style Mission Revival/Spanish Colonial Revival
Governing body private
NRHP Reference # 89000099
Added to NRHP March 8, 1989

The Bagdad Theatre is a movie theater in the Hawthorne District of Portland, Oregon, United States. It originally opened in 1927 and was the site of the premiere gala of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in 1975, and of My Own Private Idaho in 1991.[2]

The theatre was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Bagdad Theatre in 1989.[3][4] It is owned by the McMenamins brewpub chain.

Description[edit]

The rectangular structure covers almost all of four adjacent lots that total less than 1 acre (0.40 ha). Resting on a concrete foundation, the Bagdad is made largely of reinforced concrete covered with stucco. Building heights vary from three-and-a-half stories on the north to three in the middle to five on the south. Partial basements underlie the north and south ends, and the structure is topped by a variety of shed, hip, and flat roofs of red tile.[4]

Commercial storefronts, separated by a glassed-in theatre entrance, face north and west on the main floor. Other exterior features include multi-paned transoms, fanlight transoms, red tile hoods above windows, decorative molding, mock rafters, and wrought-iron balconets. With few exceptions, the exterior looks as it did in 1927.[4]

A 700-foot (210 m) lobby leads from the entrance toward the theatre's viewing areas. Hallways, ramps, and the auditorium have concrete walls decorated in a style meant to suggest the interior of a building near the Mediterranean Sea. Features include trompe-l'œil tiles, ornate lighting fixtures, arched doorways, and motifs involving animals and mythological creatures.[4]

History[edit]

Universal Pictures spent $100,000 for the Bagdad, which opened in 1927.[2] Thomas and Mercier, a Portland architectural firm, designed the Bagdad, which was built by Christman and Otis Development Company.[4] The theatre's exotic exterior and its huge neon-lit marquee competed with other movie houses, drive-in restaurants, and billboards of the 1920s in attracting customers' attention. Moorish, Egyptian, and Mayan motifs appeared here and there on movie houses across the city.[4]

The theatre's interior included a large stage, a fountain, and Middle-Eastern decor, and its female ushers wore uniforms meant to appear Arabian. Early shows featured silent films, talkies, a theatre orchestra, live stage shows, and vaudeville. Noted performers in the early years included Sammy Davis Jr., and the Will Mastin Trio.[2]

In 1975, Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, and Michael Douglas appeared at the Bagdad for Oregon's first showing of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. My Own Private Idaho opened at the Bagdad in 1991 after McMenamins renovated the theatre.[2][5]

In recent years,[when?] the theatre has hosted regular film series, like the "Midnight Movie" series organized by the hosts of cortandfatboy, in addition to book tours hosted by Powell's Books. In 2013, McMenamins renovated the theater, which included a larger screen, a digital projector, new seats, and an upgraded sound system.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Portland Historic Landmarks Commission (October 2009), Historic Landmarks -- Portland, Oregon (XLS), retrieved March 10, 2010 
  2. ^ a b c d "Bagdad Theater History". McMenamins. 2012. Retrieved April 5, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Oregon National Register List". Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. June 6, 2011. p. 30. Retrieved April 5, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Zisman, K.; Koler, J.; Morrison, J; Grimala, B., and Yost, A. (August 15, 1988). "Bagdad Theatre". National Park Service. Retrieved April 5, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Bagdad Theater & Pub" (PDF). McMenamins. Retrieved April 5, 2012. 
  6. ^ Rasmussen, Randy L. (November 14, 2013). "Bagdad Theater remodel". The Oregonian. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 

External links[edit]