Let’s remember when the Moore Theatre opened, on this day in 1907 (December 28)

Chris Burlingame
Dec 28, 2019 · 2 min read
By Visitor7 — Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24726045

A very necessary Happy Birthday is due to one of Seattle’s most long-running theaters. It opened 112 years ago today and it remains an excellent place to see a show.

From Eric L. Flom of HistoryLink:

On December 28, 1907, an overflow crowd of nearly 3,000 jams into Seattle’s new Moore Theatre at 2nd Avenue and Virginia Street for opening night. The fashionable group includes such honored guests as Washington State Governor Albert Mead (1861–1913), Seattle Mayor William Hickman Moore (1861–1946), their wives, and much of Seattle’s social elite. The venue, named after its developer, James A. Moore (1861–1929), opens with weeklong production of The Alaskan, a Klondike-themed operetta with more than a few Seattle connections.

Although ground had been broken for the house almost five months previous, preparations for opening night were a somewhat frenzied affair, continuing up to the last possible moment. Just a week before the Moore was to make its public debut, much of the house — including the furnishings, carpets, tapestries, and seats — had yet to be installed. Men worked frantically to ready the venue; on opening night those theatergoers arriving early caught a few of the workers in the midst of their last-second efforts. “Those who arrived before the necessity of a hurried occupancy of seats, found the finishing touches being placed upon the work of cleaning up,” went one account.

Opening night tickets were hard to come by — the boxes, lower floor, and balcony sold out well in advance of the first performance. “The gallery is certain to be packed,” remarked the Seattle Star of the scramble for tickets, “many of those who were unable to secure seats on the lower floors deciding that they would rather see The Alaskan … from the topmost row than to miss being present [on opening night] entirely.” Even so, theater management found extra room for the occasion, allowing a throng of “standing-room-onlies” to pack the auditorium like sardines, which boosted the house’s capacity from 2,400 to nearly 3,000 for the evening.

The opening was easily the social event of the season, with reporters noting that it had “seldom, if ever been duplicated in Seattle,” even surpassing a spectacular concert by Madame Calve at the Grand Opera House only a few weeks previous. (Nor did the society folk end their evening after the curtain had rung down on the play — several prominent “supper parties” were held immediately after the show let out. Local theatrical manager John Cort [1861–1929], who abandoned the Grand Opera House to make the Moore his flagship Seattle theater, held a lavish celebration at the Savoy Hotel, dining with Governor Mead and Mayor Moore, among selected guests.)

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