Please call ahead to let
Please call ahead to let staff know you are interested in joining the tour. 503-375-3574. Office Hours 9-4, Monday – Friday
Named after the sixteenth-century Danish castle in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the Elsinore Theater opened for silent films and vaudeville shows on May 28, 1926. It was heralded as the “largest and most lavish theater between Portland and San Francisco.”
In the decades since attorney and art connoisseur George B. Guthrie constructed the building at High and State Streets, the Elsinore has been an integral part of the city’s cultural scene. Performers have included John Philip Sousa, Clark Gable, Jack Benny, Bonnie Raitt, Gregory Peck, Bernadette Peters, James Earl Jones, and Itzak Perlman.
Ellis F. Lawrence, founder of the University of Oregon School of Architecture, and interior designer Fred S. Allyn designed the Elsinore by combining the characteristics of a Gothic cathedral and a Tudor palace. The building included Povey Brothers stained-glass windows, 30-foot faux stonework walls, candlelit chandeliers, a decorative foyer, murals of Shakespeare’s characters, and two grand carpeted staircases.
In 1986 Clayton and Rick Parks donated and installed the largest theater pipe organ in the Pacific Northwest—a stunning 26-rank, 1,800-pipe instrument—as a tribute to the silent movie era. The Elsinore Theatre remains the home of the Parks Murdock Mighty Wurlitzer Organ.
Hear the stories behind the ghost light, which is a light bulb on a stand, glowing center stage. When the stage and theater are empty, the ghost light remains casting shadows against the walls of the stage and the back of the auditorium.
Take the tour and learn so much more.