Lithia Theater

243 E. Main Street,
Ashland, OR 97520

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Additional Info

Architects: George B. Purvis

Previous Names: Vining Theater

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Lithia Theater

The Vining Theater opened May 7, 1914, named after its owners, Irving E. and Robert L. Vining. Opening night of the Vining Theater was a glittering occasion. The “beautiful little theater”, as it was described, with its brick and cement exterior, cost $35,000 and had a seating capacity of 570. The ornate, chandeliered interior comprised orchestral stalls and balcony, with five boxes (each with six seats) on either side of the stage. Centered at the back of the balcony was the projection box for the photoplays (then, the word for movies).

Comfort and convenience were the hallmarks of the retiring room for the ladies and smoking room for gentlemen. The theater was said to be entirely fireproof, the five exits by builder A.D. Helms, the well-known orchard owner and capitalist, assuring the emptying of the theater in two minutes.

The Vining Theatre was considered a “combination house” because it offered movies, vaudeville, touring and stock shows, and local amateur entertainment through the 1920’s. In January 1921, its facilities were enhanced by the installation of a 2/4 Style 75 Robert Morton organ at a cost of $15,000. This attracted a packed house at the first performance, with hundreds being turned away.

In December 1932, the Vining Theater was sold to Walter H. Leverette who owned an independent chain of cinemas and the Vining Theater became the Lithia Theatre.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

kencmcintyre on December 26, 2005 at 7:11 pm

Here are two photos from 1949. One is of the Lithia, and the other is the Varsity, which was another theater in Ashland:

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strawberry on July 24, 2007 at 12:09 am

You can see a black and white photo of the Lithia back in 1949 here.

strawberry on July 24, 2007 at 12:38 am

And a JPEGy looking photo from 1935 here.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on September 16, 2010 at 11:46 pm

A photo postcard view of the Vining Theatre in Ashland before it became the Lithia.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on September 19, 2010 at 10:46 pm

“CASH NIGHT” on the marquee,Giving out money to see a movie.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 16, 2013 at 10:59 pm

The Lithia Theatre was operated by Robert Lippert from 1946 until 1951, when it closed as a movie house. It was then refurbished by Angus Bowmer and reopened as a home for his theater group, the Vining Repertory Company. In November, 1952, the Lithia Theatre was destroyed by a fire, prematurely ending the company’s second season.

Here is a 1914 photo of the Vining Theatre’s auditorium.

Here is a 1951 photo with the posters of the Vining Repertory Company’s four productions for that season.

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