Neptune Theatre (Seattle)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Neptune Theatre
Neptune Theater during SIFF.jpg
The theatre's exterior in June 2007, during the Seattle International Film Festival
Former names U-Neptune Theatre
Address 1303 Northeast 45th Street
Location University District, Seattle, Washington
Coordinates 47°39′40″N 122°18′51″W / 47.66116°N 122.31404°W / 47.66116; -122.31404Coordinates: 47°39′40″N 122°18′51″W / 47.66116°N 122.31404°W / 47.66116; -122.31404
Operator Seattle Theatre Group
Capacity 800
Opened November 16, 1921 (1921-11-16)
Renovated 2011
Architect Henderson Ryan
Official name Neptune Building
Designated March 11, 2014[1]

The Neptune Theatre, formerly known as U-Neptune Theatre, is a performing arts venue in the University District neighborhood of Seattle, in the U.S. state of Washington. Opened in 1921, the 800-seat venue hosts a variety of events, including dance and music performances, film screenings, and arts education. Prior to a renovation in 2011, the theater was primarily home to classic films.

The Neptune Theatre is operated by the non-profit Seattle Theatre Group, which also operates the Paramount Theatre and Moore Theatre. It is one of several venues that host the annual Seattle International Film Festival. The theater and building were designated a Seattle landmark in 2014.


The Neptune Building, which houses the Neptune Theatre and several small businesses, is described as a "vaguely Renaissance Revival style", three-story building with a brick facade. Its north facade, facing NE 45th Street, has a prominent marquee with the word "Neptune" in neon lighting; the final letter "e" in the marquee is stylized as a trident that appears to pierce the other letters.[2] It was designed by Henderson Ryan, a Kentucky-born architect who also worked on the Moore Theatre and Ballard Carnegie Library.[3]

The interior of the Neptune Theatre features a nautical theme, with a central concession stand shaped like a boat, marble finishes, and statues of Neptune.[2]


The "U-Neptune Theatre" was opened by the Puritan Theatre Company on November 16, 1921, featuring the silent movie Serenade and seating an audience of 1,000 people.[4][5] The theater was built with a Kimball orchestral theater organ,[6] which was removed in 1943.[7]

By the end of the 1940s, the theater was renamed the Neptune, given a small renovation and changed ownership.[8]

The theater went through several management changes during the coming decades, suffering from erratic bookings and poor equipment. It was kept afloat in the 1970s by showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a cult classic film.[9]

In 1981, the Neptune came under the ownership of the Landmark Theatres chain, which also owned the Harvard Exit Theatre in Seattle. The company renovated the theater with a new sound and projection system, hoping to bring out the venue's "long-sought potential".[9][10] Landmark renovated the theater again in 1994, replacing seating and adding a Dolby Digital and Sony Dynamic Digital Sound system,[11] along with a 16 mm film projector.

Rocky Horror[edit]

In 1991, the theater set a record by playing The Rocky Horror Picture Show every week for 14 years, longer than any other movie had played in Seattle.[12] By 1993, it was one of four U.S. theaters which had played the show the longest, according to the National Rocky Horror Fan Club in New York,[13] one of several U.S. theaters playing it in a midnight movie format.[14]

Recent renovation[edit]

The theater's exterior in 2011

Landmark lost its lease in 2010 to the Seattle Theatre Group, a non-profit organization that also operates the Moore Theatre and Paramount Theatre.[15]

The Neptune was closed for a $700,000 renovation in January 2011 and re-opened on September 25, 2011, becoming a performing arts and music venue in addition to a movie theater.[16][17][18]

The 2011 renovation saved the building from demolition for the adjoining U District Link light rail station on NE 45th Street. Sound Transit was forced to re-engineer the station to avoid the theater building,[15] and to underpin the Neptune's foundation.[19]

After the theater's 2011 renovation, its first act was Pacific Northwest musician Mark Lanegan at a soft opening in June; the official opening in September was marked by a screening of Rocky Horror.[17]

The building was nominated to become a city landmark in 2012. The Seattle City Council passed an ordinance in 2014 designating the Neptune Building as a city landmark, levying certain protections on the property.[1][20][21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Seattle City Council (March 11, 2014). "City of Seattle Ordinance 124430". City of Seattle Legislative Information Service. Office of the City Clerk. Retrieved March 21, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b Report on Designation: Neptune Building (PDF) (Report). City of Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board. November 21, 2012. Retrieved March 23, 2017. 
  3. ^ "Seattle Historical Sites: 1303 NE 45th St NE". Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. Retrieved March 23, 2017. 
  4. ^ "Films: New Film House Opens; U-Neptune Theatre Ready at University". The Seattle Times. November 16, 1921. p. 9. 
  5. ^ Ho, Vanessa (November 12, 2012). "Should Neptune Theatre be a Seattle landmark?". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved March 21, 2017. 
  6. ^ "The Kimball orchestral organ in the Neptune Theatre, Seattle..." Motion Picture Daily. Exhibitors Trade Review. 11: 772. February 11, 1922. Retrieved March 21, 2017. 
  7. ^ "Theatre Organ Bombarde". 9–10. American Theatre Organ Enthusiasts. 1967: 25,31. Retrieved March 21, 2017. 
  8. ^ Thrasher, Lynn. "History of the Neptune Theatre". Seattle Theatre Group. Retrieved March 21, 2017. 
  9. ^ a b Hartl, John (December 13, 1981). "Movie houses undergo shuffle as bookers, owners trade properties". The Seattle Times. p. E13. 
  10. ^ Hartl, John (October 27, 1981). "Slow-witted characters aren't funny in 'Saturday the 14th'". The Seattle Times. p. C7. 
  11. ^ "Neptune Theatre". Landmark Theatres. Archived from the original on January 2, 2010. Retrieved March 21, 2017. 
  12. ^ John Hartl (August 23, 1991). "At Neptune, 'Rocky Horror' Marks A Local Milestone". The Seattle Times. Retrieved March 21, 2017. 
  13. ^ Ramirez, Marc (October 24, 1993). "Let's Do The Time Warp Again and Again and Again and Again and Again". The Seattle Times. Retrieved March 21, 2017. 
  14. ^ Haines, Richard W. (2003). The Moviegoing Experience, 1968–2001. McFarland. p. 168. ISBN 9780786480746. 
  15. ^ a b Tu, Janet I. (November 30, 2010). "Neptune Theatre to gain new life, live performances". The Seattle Times. p. B1. Retrieved March 21, 2017. 
  16. ^ Matson, Andrew; de Barros, Paul (November 27, 2011). "Is the new Neptune Theatre a rock scene hog?". The Seattle Times. p. H1. Retrieved March 21, 2017. 
  17. ^ a b Paul de Barros (September 6, 2011). "Neptune Theatre grand opening starts Sept. 25". The Seattle Times. p. B3. Retrieved March 21, 2017. 
  18. ^ Brendan Sainsbury, Celeste Brash (2014). "U District". Lonely Planet Seattle. ISBN 9781743218273. Retrieved March 21, 2017. 
  19. ^ "Henderson Ryan's Neptune Theater". Seattle: The Johnson Partnership. April 18, 2012. Retrieved March 21, 2017. 
  20. ^ "Neptune Theatre Designated a Seattle Landmark!". Historic Seattle. November 21, 2012. Retrieved March 21, 2017. 
  21. ^ Beatrice Dornfeld (dornfb) (February 2, 2017). "How to Survive the Test of Time: By Seattle's Neptune Theatre". PNW Archaeology Lab blog. University of Washington. Retrieved March 21, 2017. 

External links[edit]