HISTORY OF THE ORPHEUM
The Orpheum Theatre opened in 1889 in Baker City. It ran until 1936 when there was a fire in the building. The theatre was boarded up for a time and then Ted Gamble (a Portland, Oregon movie theatre owner) lpurchased, remodeled, & modernized it and reopened the theatre in the 1940’s. The theatre was renamed the Baker Theatre. It had a large balcony and CinemaScope screen. First run movies were shown daily until about 1955 when they went to a four day week. In 1956 the theatre was closed and sat vacant until about 1964 when it was remodeled into a hardware store. Later it became a clothing store and then a music store which moved out of the building in 2015. In May 2016 plans were proposed to renovate and
re-open the building, to be re-named Baker Orpheum Theatre. Much of the original decorative features will be revealed after being hidden for years behind false walls and ceilings.
David Burris donated money to buy the Orpheum building for the Eastern Oregon Regional Theatre in May , 2016. Renovation has started and the retail store partitions have been removed as well as the false ceiling which has opened up the auditorium. The beautiful murals were visible until the asbestos was removed in May 2017, but will be restored by a local artist. The renovation will be done in phases. The Baker marquee will be restored thus the remembrance of the 30’s Orpheum and the 40’s and 50’s Baker on the new signage. The theater will showcase plays by EORT, local music groups and will bring in entertainers as well. It will be an extraordinary attraction for downtown Baker City! Larry Nicholson architect from Portland completed the feasibility study and grants have been received from the Oregon Community Foundation, the Leo Adler fund, the Ford Family Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation with more grant applications out to help fund this project. Local fundraising events are being held and support from the community is being given on an individual bases. The plans call for a theater of about 380 seats with a larger stage, new balcony, and many other professional quality features.
Eastern Oregon Regional Theatre, Inc.
Work continues on the Baker Orpheum Theatre. Thanks to grants from the Leo Adler Fund, the Ford Family Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation,The Oregon Cultural Trust Foundation, The Cythia Woods Mitchell Funds for Historic Interiors, Autzen Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation, the asbestes has been removed from the building so construction work may begin.
If you missed our community meeting here is what the building will look like when construction is completed.