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Bellingham's Mt. Baker Theatre opens on April 29, 1927.
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On April 29, 1927, the Mt. Baker Theatre, one of Hollywood mogul William Fox's chain of national theaters, opens for business at 106 North Commercial in Bellingham. The venue is the work of architect Robert C. Reamer, designer of -- among other buildings -- Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park and Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre. With an original seating capacity of 1,800, the theater is one of the first reinforced concrete buildings in the Pacific Northwest.
Designated as a National Historic site in 1978, the Mt. Baker’s Moorish design is distinctive for its large marquee tower, which at one point dominated the Bellingham skyline. It is also one of the few period venues that still has its original pipe organ. Installed in 1927, the Wurlitzer unit is still put to use today (2003).
Currently owned by the city of Bellingham, the Mt. Baker Theatre thrives today as a cultural arts center. Renovations over the years have been faithful to the theater’s original design, such that the venue still appears in largely the same way it did when it opened. (A 1980 proposal to split the theater into two screens met with vigorous public protest.) Although the stage has been enlarged and many safety repairs have been made, the Mt. Baker is unique in that its integrity has been maintained throughout the years.
“Mt. Baker Theatre, Bellingham, Washington,” Puget Sound Theatre Organ Society Website, (www.pstos.org/instruments/wa/bellingham/mtbaker.htm); “Mount Baker Theatre (1927),” City of Bellingham website, (www.cob.org/cobweb/planning/planning/historic/0326.htm).
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