Oriental Theatre – The amazing and tragically old theater in Portland

Built in 1927, the theater was a 2,040-seat movie palace designed by Lee Arden Thomas and Albert Mercier. The building’s exterior was in the Italian Renaissance style. The interior had an “almost surreal appearance” created by interior designer Adrien Alex Voisin. It was built by George Warren Weatherly.

Walter Eugene Tebbetts is listed as “the promoter who persuaded Weatherly to build a theatre,” and was the first lessee and manager of the theater. The building was designed and built at the same time as the neighboring Weatherly Building. The exterior design matched the Weatherly Building, and heat was supplied from it.

The Weatherly Building and Oriental Theatre 1920s / Image source

The Oriental utilized Asian influences from India, Indochina, and China and included “columns on each side of the screen”, said to be based on the Temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Opened on December 31, 1927, in the afternoon. The grand opening included “An Atmospheric Prologue”, and silent films The Girl from Everywhere and The Moon of Israel. The Oriental Theatre was demolished in February 1970, making room for parking at the Weatherly Building.

Oriental Theatre façade and marquee / Image source
The Weatherly Building and Oriental Theatre today. As of 2019, the space formerly occupied by the Oriental is a parking lot / Image source

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