Remnants of historic movie theater on Port Angeles tour
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Don Perry, arm extended at right, gives a tour of the old projection room in the former Elwha Theatre, 116 E. Front St. in Port Angeles. -- Photo by Chris Tucker/Peninsula Daily News

Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The newest stop on the Heritage Tours guided walk around the downtown is a recently uncovered historic art deco theater.

The Elwha Theatre was built in 1931 and closed in 1957, and a drop ceiling was installed at the building at 116 E. Front St., screening the theater from sight for 57 years.

Johnnie Montice and Randy Lester, who own Captain T’s Shirt Shoppe — unveiled the piece of Port Angeles past after they bought the building in April.

Now, the yellow, orange, peach and blue walls and the ceiling of the theater are illuminated during tours of historical Port Angeles led by Don Perry, owner of Heritage Tours and a former deputy mayor of Port Angeles.

Also on the tour is the old projection booth, lined with tin for fireproofing and still containing the original equipment.

“I am just amazed at what they’ve done in that building,” Perry said.

“It looks incredibly different from what it was when they originally bought it.”

Work continues on the building, said Lester, who is doing much of the renovation himself.

The hope is to move Captain T’s from its current location at 124 W. Railroad Ave. by the end of this month.

Right now, the place sells espresso.

It will soon have an expanded display room, a custom screen-printing area and upstairs offices.

Stairs are in place leading both to upstairs remnants of the old theater and down to a basement with bathrooms, one of which now has a couch built in the 1930s.

Perry said he is delighted to add the old theater to the downtown tour.

“We’ve been working on this for 10 years to get the Elwha Theatre on the tour,” he said, adding that he had known about it for 25 years.

“It’s really fascinating to see what’s in there,” Perry said.

“You can go into the projection booth and look across the ceiling to the back side of the theater.”

The Heritage Tour begins from the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center at 121 E. Railroad Ave. at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day except Sunday.

On the tour, Perry tells historical stories about the people who used to live and work in the downtown and shows some of the hidden places of the Port Angeles Underground, created in 1914 when the building of streets made basements out of many first floors.

Tours run between two and 2 hours, he said.

Reservations aren’t necessary but are appreciated.

Participants should show up about 10 minutes before the tour begins.

The tour is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, and $8 for children, with children under 6 free.

Groups of people who have taken the Heritage Tour in the last couple of years but who missed the theater can see it for a reduced rate, Perry said, by contacting him at 360-460-1001.

For more information about the tours, see www.portangelesheritagetours.com.

Last modified: January 01. 2012 7:17PM
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