The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

The Bijou Theater

    Medford's first movie [theater] was the Bijou, located in the rear of the Bates Brothers' barber shop, its entrance where the Union Club is now. Bob Sears and his brother-in-law, named Hubbard, started the venture. The projector was cranked by hand, each reel was a separate subject, and the story was narrated by the operator--there were no captions. The evening showing consisted of two reels, an illustrated song and another two reels, which concluded the entertainment.
    In the intermission between the first and second show the operator laboriously rewound the expended films. There were no Sunday shows, but there was one extra run Saturday night.
    The program changed on Mondays and Thursdays. "Toots" Osenbrugge was the pianist, but only fill-in music was played because during the running of the picture the narrator had to be heard. Fish recalled that he rendered the illustrated songs, and sometimes the rendition was truly heart-rending. John Bunney and Flora Finch were the outstanding comedy teams, he noted.
    Shortly the Grand opened on Front St. between Main and Sixth, then came the Star on the south side of Main St. between Bartlett St. and Central Ave., and in the new Natatorium building in 1910, Court Hall set up his son, Seely, with the movie concession.
Fletcher Fish, "Theatrical History of Rogue Valley Recalled," Medford Mail Tribune, November 11, 1962, page B2

West Main and the Bijou, July 4, 1909. The building under construction in the center is at Main and Grape.

    E. C. Hubbard and R. J. Sears expect to open up a moving picture show under the name of the Bijou Theater in the Moore Building on the west side. The equipment will be of the very best, and all the latest films will be shown. Part of the program will consist of illustrated songs, and they are now negotiating for a first-class vocalist. The admission will be 10 cents, and the performance continues until 10:30 every evening with a Saturday matinee.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, January 10, 1908, page 5

    Moore's brick building on Seventh Street, adjoining Weeks & McGowan's furniture store, has been fitted up for the Bijou Theater, where continuous performances will be given. They are said to be excellent, with the price of admission placed at 10 cents.
"Social and Personal," Medford Daily Tribune January 10, 1908, page 4

Advertisement, Medford Daily Tribune, January 11, 1908, page 4

Medford Daily Tribune, July 10, 1908

    The regular crowds attended the Bijou last night and thoroughly enjoyed a good performance. "Billy, the Bill Poster" caused a great deal of laughter. Billy met his friend the wallpaper hanger. They take too many drinks together and get their paper sacks mixed and Billy posts wallpaper on the billboards, while his pal posts bills on the walls of a handsome city residence. They finally post a bill on a policeman's back and are promptly arrested. Two very good dramas are also billed.
    The Bijou theater is always the first in securing the latest feature pictures, never running repeaters or pictures that have been run elsewhere in the city. Friday and Saturday night one of the most thrilling and sensational films on the market will be run--"The Younger Bros." Following on Monday and Tuesday with the greatest production of the age--"Damon and Pythias."
Medford Mail, August 7, 1908, page 8

    MR. AND MRS. CHAS. ELLIS presented for the first time on any stage "The Opera Singer's Husband" at the opening of the new Bijou Vaudeville Theater, Medford, Ore. The piece is a one-act drama written by Mr. Ellis. They will play the vaudeville houses of the coast this season, presenting the act, which runs twenty minutes, on the full stage.

New York Clipper, New York City, December 19, 1908, page 1109

    E. W. Knapps and D. W. Clark have purchased the Bijou Theater and gave their first performance on Sunday night. These gentlemen, aside from presenting a splendid moving-picture show, will put on vaudeville--that is, vaudeville that's clean and wholesome--something that will amuse the entire family and at the same time not offend the most sensitive. An evening's amusement for which you will need not apologize to a friend, should you invite one to attend. These are the kind of amusements these gentlemen have promised, and if they live up to the promise the theater will be, and ought to be, well patronized.
Medford Mail, May 21, 1909, page 5

The last Bijou ad, Medford Mail Tribune, July 24, 1910.

    Once more the Bijou Theater is darkened as also the spirits of several employees of the place, who are mourning the absence of the shekels which should be now making a pleasant noise in their various pockets.
    June 20 one W. H. Fluhart arrived in the city looking for a moving picture show to buy or lease. Rankin Estes, who owned the paraphernalia, gave Mr. Fluhart a 30-day option on the plant with the privilege of buying or leasing. Apparently the Bijou was doing a good business and had many attractions. On one pretext or another he postponed the liquidation of his bills until Sunday night, the day before his option was to expire and his month was up, when he folded his tent and a few other things which did not belong to him and departed.
    He displayed when he arrived a deputy sheriff's badge from Seattle.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 26, 1910, page 3

FOR RENT--Bijou building for rent or sale. Inquire of Estes, in barber shop.

Medford Mail Tribune, July 27, 1910, page 8

    Even Medford has its "fly-by-nights," its artful dodgers of "bills payable," its misfit leisureites. Not long ago the supposedly "permanent" manager of a real estate firm refused to negotiate his own checks and fled, followed by a hearty wail of protest; then there was another gentleman who sighed to flee but couldn't, thanks to an unfeeling constable; and now the Bijou Theatre has crepe on its door--after its too sad burglary, too--while a group of excited mourners outside seek vainly for traces of the departed. Surely, Medford is growing!

"Brevities," The Saturday Review, Medford, July 30, 1910, page 1

Last revised August 2, 2012