Liberty Theatre

813 S. Market Boulevard,
Chehalis, WA 98532

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 1, 2022 at 2:58 am

I was mistaken about the seating capacity of the Dream Theatre. It was a house called the Ruby that had 200 seats. Both were listed in the 1914-1915 American Motion Picture Directory, along with the Empress. The 1926 FDY lists the Dream with 398 seats. The Dream is gone in 1927, and the Liberty appears, with 400 seats. The only other house listed at Chehalis in those editions if the 700-seat St. Helens. Now I’m wondering if the Dream might have been renamed Liberty after the Liberty burned in 1926? That wouldn’t explain why the Liberty is not listed in 1926, though. Chehalis has a rather puzzling theater history.

JackCoursey on April 30, 2022 at 1:05 am

Am discovering that quite a few of these venues that cropped up during the onset of the twentieth century were just community halls which periodically served as cinemas.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 29, 2022 at 10:59 pm

I wonder if the Empress could have been renamed the Liberty after the 1926 fire? Neither the Liberty nor the Empress is listed in the 1926 FDY, but the Liberty was back in the 1927 edition, the only other theater listed that year being the St. Helens. Chehalis also had an earlier theater called the Dream, but it was quite small, only 200 seats.

JackCoursey on April 29, 2022 at 10:30 pm

I was a the Chehalis Library a few weeks ago and even with the assistance of the librarian, we were unable to locate anything on the liberty. Would love to see a photo of it.

robboehm on April 29, 2022 at 9:56 pm

There were continuance performances at the theatre requiring some indirect lighting at all times (which also was supposed to be a deterrent for any hanky panky).

robboehm on April 29, 2022 at 9:54 pm

That link also says the Liberty was managed by T.K. Metz who also owned the Empress Theatre in town. That theatre is not on CT. At the time it was built ceilings were high to maximize the sound of the $5000 organ which was installed. The damage from the fire was estimated at $12,000. Interesting statistics.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 29, 2022 at 7:38 pm

History Link says that the Liberty Theatre in Chehalis opened on July 11, 1918. It also says that the Liberty was destroyed by a fire in the summer of 1926 and never rebuilt, but the footnotes to the essay don’t cite any sources to support the claim. The latest citation is the September 11, 1926 Motion Picture News item that reported the fire.

The Film Daily Year Book continued to list the Liberty for several years after the fire, but that might have been either a rebuilt Liberty or a different theater using the Liberty name (or just a mistake by the FDY.) A period local source would be useful, but I’ve found none online. Neither have I found any later mentions of the Liberty in the trade journals.