A Summarized History on the Coos Bay Egyptian Theatre
Travel down Broadway in Coos Bay, and you’ll see a marquee that would fit right in on the street of the same name in New York City. This majestic light display marks the spot of the Egyptian Theatre, one of the most interesting and historical places in town. The theater has had a long and rich existence, much of which has been preserved and is celebrated to this day. Learn more about the Coos Bay Egyptian Theatre before your next trip to The Mill Casino • Hotel & RV Park – you’re sure to want to make a visit.
The Egyptian Theatre first opened its doors in November of 1925, but the building in which it is housed was constructed three years earlier as the Motor Inn Garage and Service Station. However, after building restrictions relaxed following World War I, the structure was converted into a theater. The Egyptian motif was part of a movement inspired by the discovery of King Tut’s tomb and the excavation of the Great Hall of Karnak happening around the same time. Two tall bronze statues of pharaohs on thrones greet patrons entering the lobby, where the walls are covered in hieroglyphics. The arch above the stage has a replica of an ancient Egyptian temple, with two columns on either side that are covered in depictions of lotuses, royal figures, and more ancient writing.
Soon after the Egyptian Theatre was opened, pictures with sound, then called talkies, boosted the popularity of movies. The theatre showed talkies from the country’s biggest studios during the weekend, attracting people from all over Oregon’s south coast. The theatre survived the Great Depression by holding bank nights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, where they enticed visitors with cash raffles.
Change of Ownership
In 1949, the theatre was sold to Jones Enterprises, which was owned by Stan McSwain. McSwain updated the theatre with amenities such as a concession stand and a new marquee. But by the early 1970s, television and drive-in theaters created heavy competition for traditional movie theaters. McSwain tried to counteract declining attendance by adding a third screen, but the change had little effect. The theatre was sold again in 1982 and underwent a slow decline throughout the end of the twentieth century that saw ownership change hands several times. Eventually, it was closed in November of 2005, and the building was put up for sale.
Renovation Gives New Life
Fortunately, the City of Coos Bay Urban Renewal Agency quickly bought the building in 2006 and started the much-needed surveys and repairs to get the theatre back up and running again. In June of 2014, the Egyptian Theatre opened its doors once more, with structural repairs made, stage house roofing replaced, and the outside electrical system completely overhauled but most of the original interior still intact. The front façade and marquee were upgraded with a new design that pays tribute to the original look of the theatre. Today, the Egyptian Theatre serves as an important part of the Coos Bay community by holding fundraisers, events and of course, showing movies.
Explore Coos Bay Theatres
When you’re looking for a break from the action at the table games and slots at The Mill Casino • Hotel & RV Park, taking in a movie at the Coos Bay Egyptian Theatre is the perfect way to relax. The stunning interior and calendar of classic movies will bring out a sense of nostalgia for simpler times. While you’re staying at The Mill, be sure to check out some of our other local attractions to make the most of your trip. If you haven’t made your reservations yet, book your trip today.