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February 25, 2016


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I miss that place! 1969. It was so beautiful!! Really sad. But HEY! If you see a paradise, what do you do? Put up a parking lot!!
We got in on the purchase and removal of some of the plaster wall art and a couple of rows of the seats, 4 cushy loge type seats and the 4 very ornate 1st floor sconce aisle lamps. All except the lamps are gone. I believe my brother still has the lamps.
Dennis Hedberg bought the massive organ and put it in the the restaurant he had built by the old little La Rog's store on 82nd. Pizza Pizza!
Last I heard when Dennis closed the doors he sold most of the organ to someone in Mesa Arizona. The rest went all over the place. Don't know anything else about the theater stuff, like the 2 awesome cash registers.

Is the Oriental still open?

No Mike Towns, sorry. It was destroyed to put in a small parking lot starting in late 1969 for the adjacent Weatherly Bldg. By, I believe February 1970 it was completely gone. It took a while because the building was parted out to many "bidders" at an auction which turned out to be the theaters final performance. Then after they got what they could, the final heavy equipment demo finished it off.

CORRECTION: Sorry, I incorrectly spelled your name! TOWNES. Geoff

Geoff T: read this: Lobbying to save the theatre began by at least 1959, and after Clayton Weatherly died in May 1969, the heirs decided to sell, despite a "premium lease" offer that was made.[1]
Everything inside the theatre was auctioned off, with the Wurlitzer going to the Organ Grinder Restaurant, who later upgraded their console, sending the Oriental Theatre organ console to Uncle Milt's Pizza on Grand Blvd in Vancouver, Washington. Uncle Milt's Pizza closed in 1999, the organ-facaded building being sold to Rite Aid,[2][5][6] who abandoned plans to build a drugstore there. The location is now a Lord's Gym Christian "sports outreach center".[7][8] Some of the plasterwork went to the Robin Hood Theatre in Sherwood, Oregon, which was being rebuilt and was subsequently renamed the Sherwood Oriental Theatre.[1]
The Oriental Theatre was demolished in February or April 1970, making room for parking at the Weatherly Building.[1][4] It was lamented as an "amazing old theater was tragically demolished to make way for another parking lot, an irreplaceable loss for the city of Portland".[2] As of 2012, the space formerly occupied by the Oriental is still a parking lot.
It was a magnificent pipe organ played by some of the best organists in the country and while it remained at the organ grinder, it was played by the best organist in Portland, Jonas Nordwall, who is still the organist at first united methodist. The instrument is still being played in Mesa AZ at Organ Stop Pizza.

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