Rex Theatre

E. Fourth Street and Franklin Street,
Olympia, WA 98501

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Additional Info

Styles: Neo-Classical

Nearby Theaters

Rex Theater front

Built in 1911 on the corner of E. Fourth Street and Franklin Street by J.B. & L.K.Nave at a cost of $6,000. It was built entirely of cement in a Neo-Classical style and it’s dimensions were thirty five feet by eighty feet.

In 1913 the house was filled with opera chairs, a Weber baby grand piano, a stage and scenery, although Vaudeville was very seldom performed there as it was strictly a movie picture house. There were two aisles, each two feet ten inches in width. The operating room was of fireproof construction with a motor driven Power’s No 6 machine. The size of the picture was eleven feet by fourteen feet from a sixty five foot throw. Also in the operating room was a dissolving stereopticon, a spotlight and mercury arc rectifier.

Source: ‘The Moving Picture World, June 7, 1913’, Page 1017; ‘Rex Theater, Olympia, Washington’

Contributed by Charmaine Zoe

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

KenLayton on June 7, 2011 at 10:43 am

Building still exists and is in excellent condition. There is a “historic building” marker on it now.

KenLayton on June 7, 2011 at 10:46 am

The Rex Theater building is at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Franklin Street. It has apartments on the top floor and storefronts below at street level.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 7, 2011 at 7:05 pm

KenLayton is correct. The Rex was at the southeast corner of Fourth and Franklin, and the building is still standing. Judging from the configuration of the building’s storefronts, the entrance to the Rex was probably at 408 Franklin Street SE. The wall there is closed up and has been plastered over, and doesn’t quite match the rest of the exterior. The entrance to the Franklin Apartments is adjacent to the south, with an address of 410 Franklin.

Here’s a link to the 1913 article about the Rex in the trade publication The Moving Picture World. There is a photo of the Rex’s entrance at the upper right corner of the page, and its clearly the same building still standing at 4th and Franklin.

The Google Street View above currently shows the State Theatre at Fourth and Washington. It will have to be reset.

KenLayton on July 30, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Olympia area theater patriarch Ed Zabel operated the Rex Theatre, the Ray Theatre, the Acme Theater, and the Capitol theater. Later he operated the Sunset drive-in theater in Tumwater and the Lacey Drive-in theater in Lacey. In the early days during the 1910’s and 1920’s, the Zabel family operated their theaters under the Olympia Amusement Company title. Later the company name was changed to Zabel Theatre Company.

KenLayton on September 1, 2011 at 9:01 pm

The exact address for the theater is 301 and 303 4th Avenue East, Olympia, Wash. 98501

CSWalczak on September 29, 2012 at 11:49 am

The caption for this photo claims it is a picture of the Rex in 1913; if it is, it was radically altered in appearance later based on the link Joe Vogel posted above.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 27, 2015 at 9:29 pm

The photo CSWalczak linked to in the previous comment is gone, but I suspect that it might have been the photo referred to in a correction at the end of the MPW article I linked to three comments earlier, which said:

“[As the above description was published on page 1017 of the issue dated June 7, with a photograph of the Rex theater in Spokane, Wash., we are republishing it with a view of the right Rex theater]”

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