Theater was state-of-the-art in its heyday

Written by Observer staff reports February 17, 2010 02:30 pm

On a day in 1948, crowds gathered in front of the Liberty Theatre for a local traffic safety program, and considered whether  “Chicken Every Sunday” was a movie worth seeing. The Liberty closed in 1959. UNION COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE photo
On a day in 1948, crowds gathered in front of the Liberty Theatre for a local traffic safety program, and considered whether “Chicken Every Sunday” was a movie worth seeing. The Liberty closed in 1959. UNION COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE photo
The Liberty Theatre, first known as the Orpheum, was rated by some as one of the top places to watch a show in Oregon when it opened in November 1910.

“The finest vaudeville house in the Northwest, size of the town considered...,’’ read a passage from a November 1910 article in The Observer on the opening of the theater.

Its features included a ventilation system through which fresh air was circulated in the building every six minutes, impressive lighting and furnishings and a seating capacity of 633.

The lower floor had a seating capacity of 451, a total which included 12 box seats. The gallery held 182 people. All of the seats were opera chairs.

The theater’s aisle’s had floor lights that provided “a splendid light effect.’’ Other items of note included an aluminum curtain, wall chandeliers, a large stage and tinted walls.

Later a fly gallery was added, one that allowed the theater to handle traveling vaudeville shows during their declining years, according to a National Register of Historic Places application submitted to the National Park Service. A fly gallery, according to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, is a raised platform at the side of a theater stage from which flying scenery lines are operated.

Plays were the theater’s main source of entertainment in its early years.