The Moore Theatre

1936 2nd Avenue

Moore Theatre and Hotel, Seattle, June 14, 2008, Photo by George Kelly (CC BY 2.0)
Moore Hotel and Theatre, Seattle, May 27, 2020, HistoryLink photo by David Koch
Moore Hotel entrance, Seattle, May 27, 2020, HistoryLink photo by David Koch
Hugh Becket's Moore Theater marquee, Seattle, May 1955, Courtesy Seattle Public Library (spl_wl_thr_00091)
Moore Theatre and Hotel, Seattle, 1915
Moore Theatre, Seattle, ca. 1908
Steel beams on Second Avenue during Moore Theatre construction, Seattle, 1907

1936 2nd Avenue

Seattle’s first World’s Fair – the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition – opened on June 1, 1909, and locals began preparing well in advance. Anticipating throngs of visitors, James A. Moore developed several Belltown properties including the New Washington Hotel and the Moore Hotel at 1926 2nd Avenue. Attached to the hotel was the 2,436-seat Moore Theatre, which opened in 1907. The A-Y-P was a raging success, attracting more than 1 million visitors, and Moore’s hotel and theater profited handsomely. Designed by architect E. W. Houghton, the theater featured a state-of-the-art electrical system, a steel-girder structural design that required no view-blocking support columns, and lavish interior décor of Byzantine and Italianate stylings.

Theater-business legend John Cort initially ran the venue, which would host theatrical presentations, lectures, and events ranging from Little Richard’s born-again gospel show of 1958 to 1971’s world debut of the stage production of The Who’s rock opera Tommy. In 1974 the theater and hotel were placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1975 the hall was recast as the Moore Egyptian, and the Seattle International Film Festival debuted here in 1976. Later, the Moore was a center of Seattle’s Grunge scene: Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Mad Season, and Pearl Jam all recorded live sets or videos here, while Mudhoney, TAD, and Nirvana played Sub Pop Records’ “Lame Fest” here in 1989. Reconfigured a few times over the decades, the 1,400-seat Moore is the city’s oldest active theater.

Our next stop is one block west at the southeast corner of 1st Avenue and Virginia Street.

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