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Planned: La Grande, OR – Liberty Theatre

New life for Liberty Theatre?

Written by Bill Rautenstrauch, The Observer February 17, 2010 03:29 pm

Doug Campbell, a volunteer in the La Grande Main Street Program, examines some equipment left over in the Liberty Theatre projection room. Campbell toured the building Saturday. DICK MASON /The Observer

Doug Campbell, a volunteer in the La Grande Main Street Program, examines some equipment left over in the Liberty Theatre projection room. Campbell toured the building Saturday. DICK MASON /The Observer

A ghost lurks in the building at 1010 Adams Ave., begging to be brought back to life. If she could speak, she’d say something like: “I was beautiful once, and I can be again.”

The ghost in question is the old Liberty Theatre, born as the Orpheum in 1910, featuring vaudeville acts and silent films, renamed the Arcade in 1911, and finally becoming the Liberty in 1931.

Generations of Union County residents saw hundreds and hundreds of movies at the Liberty before it closed for good in 1959.

Then it was remodeled to accommodate retail establishments. Today, the building is owned by local resident Howard Butts.

Domino’s Pizza does business on the ground floor, and will for the foreseeable future. Owner Jesse Watson said this week he only recently learned of a proposed restoration project, and has no plans to move.

Whatever the future holds, the ghost of the Liberty is visible, however faintly, above, below and in back of Domino’s.

The upper reaches of the main auditorium, the balcony and projection room, are mostly intact. An ornate but tarnished old chandelier hangs from the ceiling near the balcony. It’s an emblem of the past that draws the eye.

Piles of drapery lay about, and some of the old carpet remains. In the projection room, there’s some equipment left over.

Down below, under a couple of layers of added flooring, can be found the orchestra pit, the stage, stage stairways and doors left and right, dressing rooms.

via La Grande Observer | Union and Wallowa Counties’ News Leader.

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