Showplace opened with talkie, revue

The Holly Theatre opened in August 1930 as the first Medford cinema designed for movies with sound, Southern Oregon Historical Society records show.

Excavation had started in 1928 and construction got under way in November 1929. Built at a cost of $100,000, the 1,200-seat Spanish Colonial Revival-style theater was described as the city's most elegant movie palace.

Prominent local architect Frank C. Clark designed the building. Local artist and decorating specialist Bliss Hein was retained as the "official decorator" for the grand opening, bedecking Sixth Street with flags and banners.

State-of-the-art projection and sound systems installed for the opening included two Super Simplex projectors and a Western Electric sound system that could also broadcast live performances over the radio.

Theater operator Walter H. Leverette, a Medford business and civic leader who also owned and operated the State Theater at Eighth Street and Central Avenue, booked a Technicolor musical comedy called "Hold Everything," starring Joe E. Brown, for the opening. A local revue, dubbed "Holly's Follies," planned as an opening act was hugely popular and sold out two shows.

Difficulty in obtaining films and tough economic conditions that made it difficult to fill seats forced the Holly to close periodically through the Great Depression.

In 1942 the theater resumed regular operations, in part to serve Camp White soldiers, who were admitted to shows for a quarter. Regular tickets were 30 cents for matinees and 40 cents for evening shows.

As newer multi-screen movie theaters opened in the valley and video sales became more prevalent, the large single-screen theaters suffered. The Craterian on Central Avenue closed in 1984. The Holly closed for good in October 1986 along with the Cinema Center in the Medford Shopping Center.

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