When I want to enjoy a film on the big-screen surrounded by brightly-lit vintage marquees, barrel arches, ornate wrought-iron fixtures, brilliant mosaics and velvet-draped walls, I head to one of these five movie theaters. Independently owned and sprinkled throughout Portland, these historic gems were all originally built as movie houses or live theaters and opened their doors prior to 1950.
Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, opened 1926
The only Spanish Colonial Revival style movie theater in Portland, the Hollywood was modeled after the Roman Baths of Caracalla and the Italian Basilica of St. Pietro of Lorenzo Bernini. When I’m done gawking at the lavish interiors and facade, the theatre’s three auditoriums offers me a plethora of local and international films, classic cinema, animation, educational and independent programming as well as blockbuster second-run movies. Fuel up with adult and non-alcoholic beverages, pizza, popcorn and other snacks.
Laurelhurst Theater, Laurelhurst Neighborhood, opened 1923
One of the first art deco style theaters of the period, the Laurelhurst now offers four modern screens while maintaining its simple yet classic décor. I also like its diverse selection of movies, including second-run, Independent, art and classic films. Microbrews, wine, pizza, salads, wraps, popcorn and candy are available to enjoy during the movie.
Bagdad Theater & Pub, Hawthorne Neighborhood, opened 1927
The Bagdad always takes me back to the Golden Age of Hollywood with its rounded doorways and faux Arabian Nights décor. Grab a slice of hot pizza, popcorn and/or an adult bevvie before plunking down to enjoy a first-run movie on the theater’s enormous, state-of-the-art screen and surround sound.
Academy Theater, Montavilla Neighborhood, opened 1948
This is my go-to movie house for second-run films. It was renovated in 2006 with fun, Technicolor-inspired lobby/interiors and comfy seating. Along with three screens, the theater has a good selection of food and beverages, including beer and wine. There’s even babysitting available for kiddos 2-8 years old; reservations are required.
Moreland Theater, Sellwood-Moreland Neighborhood, opened 1926
The Moreland’s casual vibe, vintage charm, first-run films and well-priced tickets draw me back again and again. Sitting in the 675-seat single-screen theater, it’s not hard to imagine that 90 years ago it was home to rowdy vaudeville acts, silent movies and a 2/6 Robert Morton organ. Popcorn, candy and beverages are available for modern day audiences.