Thursday, February 7, 2019

Majestic Theatre's Early History

What did Benton County residents do for fun in the Circa 1920 era?  One possibility then, as now, was to go to the movies. For many years beginning in 1913, that meant visiting the Majestic Theatre in the newly-built Johnson Porter building on Second Street. The 800-seat theater, operated by Charles Small and Samuel Whiteside, not only showed films but also had a stage which was used for live shows and local events.
Majestic Theatre, Corvallis, Oregon
The Benton County Historical Museum has the Majestic's ledgers from this period.  Not only do these list weekly expenses and receipts, but for most weeks, they also give the movies shown.  I was interested to see what movies were playing 100 years ago.

First of all, I was surprised to see that they showed THREE films per week, with each showing for two days. The theater was closed on Sundays.

The first movie shown in 1919 was Shoulder Arms starring Charlie Chaplin-- one of the top-grossing films in 1918.  That was followed by Turn of the Wheel, starring Geraldine Farrar, and Cecile B. DeMille's We Can't Have Everything. 

The beginning of February marked the film debut of Will Rogers in Laughing Bill Hyde.

Some of the other films they showed in February 1919 included:
Wild Honey starring Doris Kenyon
Good Night Paul starring Constance Talmadge
Just for Tonight starring Tom Moore
Conquered Hearts starring Marguerite Marsh
Hidden Fires starring Mae Marsh
Riddle Gawne starring William S. Hart (one of many westerns shown during 1919)
The Secret of Storm Country starring Norma Talmadge
A Perfect 36 starring Mabel  Normand (one of the big stars of the silent film era)
and Cecil B. DeMille's Till I come Back to You.

Other top-grossing  films that the Majestic Theatre showed in 1919 included
Mickey starring Mabel Normand
The Squaw Man (a Cecil B. DeMille film)
Daddy-Long-Legs starring Mary Pickford.

I'll have a few more notes about the Majestic's operations next week. 

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon

Friday, February 1, 2019

Corvallis Businesses Circa 1920

The last post showed some of the stores that two women shopping on Second Street might have entered. 

During the 1914-1925 era, there were some shops the women probably would not have entered.  Because The Pastime, located in the Julian Hotel on Second Street, had a billiard hall in back, the women might have been reluctant to patronize the soda fountain in the front.
The Pastime, Corvallis soda fountain & pool hall
Women in the early 1920s also would not have been likely to enter a cigar store or a barber shop.
W. A. Williamson's Corvallis Cigar Factory
Corvallis barber shop, circa 1925
In 1910, Gus Harding constructed a two-story commercial building at Third and Madison.  The first occupant was the Nolan's Department store, which advertised that “it paid to walk a little further.” During the circa 1920 period, other commercial buildings were constructed in this area as the business district expanded westward. If the women in the photo been willing to walk a bit, they could have visited Corl’s Book store to purchase stationery and other paper goods as well as books.
Corl's Book Shop interior, Corvallis, Oregon
By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Shopping in Corvallis A Century Ago

If you were transported back to Corvallis, Oregon, in 1914, you might recognize some of the buildings in this photograph of Second Street such as the Benton County Bank Building (now Lucidyne offices) in the upper right.
2nd Street Corvallis in 1914
 Then, as now, Second Street was part of the main business district.   The women are standing by the R. H. Huston hardware store. The Benton County Historical Museum does not have a photo of the interior of that store.  It probably would have looked like that of the Cooper and Newton Hardware store, also on Second Street, shown in this 1910 photo.
Cooper & Newton hardware store in 1910
The women might be headed toward the First National Bank building on the southwest corner of Madison and Second Street.
First National Bank, Corvallis, Oregon
Then they might use the cash to shop for groceries or medicines. Kline's Grocery, show in this photograph from 1916-1918, was located on Second Street, across from where the Odd Fellows Hall is now.  In this old-style grocery, customers would hand a clerk a shopping list or make a verbal request and the clerk would retrieve the desired items from the shelves.
Kline's Grocery, Corvallis, Oregon
Meat would be purchased from a special store which operated in a similar fashion. This photograph shows the interior of the Corvallis Meat Market in 1922 or 1923.
Corvallis Meat Market
Today, there are no grocery stores or meat markets on Second Street-- you would have to walk a few blocks to the Safeway supermarket on Third Street.  This different type of grocery retailing began in 1916 when the Piggly Wiggly store in Memphis, Tennessee gave entering customers a shopping basket and let them select from individually priced items on convenient open shelves.

Another type of store you won't find downtown anymore is a pharmacy. The last one was the since the Albright and Raw Rexall store at Third and Madison which closed after selling its pharmacy business to Safeway in September of 2006.  In the circa 1920 era, Graham and Wells operated a store at Jefferson and Second Street.
Graham & Wells Drug Store Interior,
Corvallis, Oregon
One store which was doing business in this era and is still operating on Second Street is Blackledge Furniture, founded in 1901.  The photo below shows the store in 1923.
Blackledge Furniture, Corvallis, Oregon
 By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon