Timeline

  • November 13 1851

    Denny Party lands at Alki Point
  • April 3 1852

    Members of Denny Party move from Alki Point to area that is now downtown Seattle.
  • 1853

    Yesler’s Mill Cook House (1853-1859) is completed and serves as the venue for the city’s earliest entertainments. Located on Commercial Street (1st Avenue South) between Washington and Mill Streets.
  • March 2 1853

    President Fillmore signs law creating Washington Territory.
  • 1859

    Plummer’s Hall is erected at the corner of Main and Commercial (1st Avenue South). The top floor of this two-story hall built by Charles Plummer is used for concerts and entertainments. Plummer’s Hall operates from 1859 to 1866.
  • 1861

    Henry Yesler constructs Yesler Hall on the southwest corner of Commercial (1st Avenue South) and Mill streets; the entrance is on Mill Street (Yesler Way). The upstairs of the building is used for entertainments. Yesler Hall operates from 1861 to 1870.
  • April 23 1864

    Seattle’s first professional theatrical engagement takes place at Plummer’s Hall where Edith Mitchell gives a dramatic reading of Shakespeare to a “small but appreciative audience” who “manifested their satisfaction by frequent applause.” (The Washington Gazette, April 26, 1864).
  • April 29 1864

    Tom Lamont and the Taylor Bros. present the minstrel show American Mocking Bird at Yesler Hall.
  • 1865

    Yesler’s Pavilion opens at Front (1st Avenue) and Cherry Street which gives Seattle a larger venue for theatrical entertainment. Yesler’s Pavilion is open from 1865 to 1887.
  • February 7 1865

    Seattle passes a Theatrical Ordinance stating: “No theatrical or other exhibition, concert, circus performance, or menagerie shall be allowed within the town of Seattle without a permit from the clerk of the Board. The clerk shall have the authority to grant a permit on payment of $5.00 for each performance together with a fee of 50 cents for each and every permit.”
  • July 1866

    The Pixley Sisters--Annie, Minnie and Lucy--provide musical entertainment at Plummer’s Hall. Annie Pixley goes on to become a highly regarded actress and the leading lady for actor Joseph Jefferson.
  • October 29 1870

    The Alhambra Minstrels being a series of performances at Yesler’s Pavilion.
  • November 1 1871

    Susan B. Anthony gives the first of two lectures on female suffrage at Yesler’s Pavilion.
  • March 15 1875

    Fanny Morgan Phelps and her theatrical company perform Taming of the Shrew on March 15, 1875 at Yesler’s Pavilion. This is the first professional production of full-length Shakespearean play in Seattle. Phelps and company also perform Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Gilded Age, and Ticket of Leave Man.
  • November 29 1876

    Sawtelle Dramatic Company begins a week of productions at Yesler’s Hall including Under the Gaslight and and Rip Van Winkle.
  • November 24 1879

    Squire’s Opera house, built by Watson Squire, opens on the east side of Commercial Street (1st Avenue S) between Washington and Main streets. It is the first building constructed as a theatre in Seattle. Watson Squire goes on to serve as Governor of Washington Territory and a U.S. Senator. Squire's Opera House
  • December 1881

    Respected Shakespearean actor William E. Sheridan performs at Squire’s Opera House in several plays including Othello, Merchant of Venice and King Lear.
  • July 1 1882

    Smith’s Bijou Theatre opens at Third Avenue and Washington with its on company of vaudeville singers and dancers. Bijou Theatre
  • September 1882

    Squire’s Opera House is remodeled to become the New Brunswick Hotel.
  • July 1884

    Actor Daniel Bandmann performs in Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Richard III in repertoire at the Standard Theatre (previously Alhambra Theatre). Daniel Bandmann
  • December 1 1884

    Frye’s Opera House opens at 1st and Marion with seating for nearly 600. Frye's Opera House
  • December 1 1884

    Frye’s Opera House opens at 1st and Marion with seating for nearly 600. Frye's Opera House
  • November 25 1886

    Turners Hall opens on Thanksgiving Day at Fourth and Jefferson. James O’Neill performs in The Count of Monte Cristo in Turners Hall in April.
  • 1887

    John Cort arrives in Seattle and takes over the Standard Theatre beginning his theatrical career in this city. The Standard, one of Seattle’s “box-houses”--essentially saloons with stages --was not frequented by “respectable” citizens. John Cort
  • January 9 1888

    The new Standard Theatre, built by John Cort, opens on the southeast corner of Washington and Occidental. New Standard Theatre
  • June 6 1889

    The Great Seattle Fire destroys most of the city’s entertainment venues including Frye’s Opera House and the new Standard Theatre. John Cort opens a tent theatre just two weeks after his theatre is destroyed. Within six months, Cort constructs a new theatre building on the southeast corner of Occidental Avenue and Washington.
  • January 15 1890

    Daniel Bandmann returns to Seattle with his Great Shakespearian Festival Company to perform Hamlet, Merchant of Venice and Richard III at Turner Hall located at 4th and Jefferson
  • September 10 1890

    The grand opening of the Madison Street Theater features Mrs. Story’s Opera Company performing Pinafore.
  • October 1890

    Cordray takes over the Madison Street Theater, renaming it Cordray’s Theatre.
  • October 1890

    Thomas Keene performs in Richard III for an audience of 1250 at the Seattle Opera House on October 27, followed by Richelieu and Merchant of Venice later that week.
  • September 24 1891

    Sarah Bernhardt performs in Sardou’s Fedora in French before an audience of 1500 at Cordray’s Theatre. Ticket prices ranged from $3.00 for back rows to $50.00 for box seats. Sarah Bernhardt
  • December 5 1892

    The Seattle Theatre opens at the corner of Third Avenue and Cherry. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes: “The opening of the Seattle Theater is an event of more than ordinary importance to the people of this city. It marks a distinct step in the advancement of this community in culture, intelligence and refinement. Ever since the great fire of 1889 Seattle has been sadly in need of such a play of amusement as the taste of its people demanded.”
  • December 8 1892

    Julia Marlowe appears in Much Ado About Nothing followed by Twelfth Night on December 9th during the opening week of the Seattle Theatre. Julia Marlowe in Much Ado About Nothing
  • June 18 1893

    Transcontinental rail travel begins for the city with the Great Northern Railroad‘s first passenger train leaving from Seattle to St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • September 20 1893

    Ellen Terry and Henry Irving star in the Lyceum Theatre Company’s production of Merchant of Venice at the Seattle Theatre. The Seattle Post Intelligencer describes the production in glowing terms: “... the spectacle which was presented from the stage was one to quicken the soul, stir the heart and call forth the highest efforts of the most resplendent genius.” (Seattle P-I, Sept. 21, 1893). Irving and Terry in Merchant of Venice
  • April 1895

    Frederick Warde and Louis James and their company perform Henry IV, Julius Caesar, Francesca de Rimini and Richard III at the Seattle Theatre.
  • 1896

    Cordray’s Theatre comes under new management and is renamed the Third Avenue Theatre.
  • 1897

    The Seattle City Council passes Ordinance No 4581 which states: “No person shall wear any hat or bonnet or other head covering within any licensed theater in this city during the rendition of any program on the stage or platform of any theater.”
  • 1897

    Klondike Gold Rush brings thousands of people to Seattle.
  • February 1900

    Louis James, Charles B. Hanford and Kathyrn Kidder perform in Winter’s Tale, School for Scandal and The Rivals at the Seattle Theatre.
  • October 8 1900

    John Cort opens the Grand Opera House at 217 Cherry Street with a seating capacity of 2200. Grand Opera House
  • April 1901

    Madame Modjeska appears at the Seattle Theatre in King John and Mary Stuart.
  • 1902

    Alexander Pantages opens the Crystal Theatre which features variety acts.
  • February 1903

    Maurice Barrymore and Leslie Carter appear in David Belasco’s melodrama Heart of Maryland at the Grand Opera House.
  • December 7 1903

    The elaborate Klaw and Erlanger production of the melodrama Ben Hur, featuring eight horses in the chariot race, opens at the Grand Opera House.
  • 1904

    Alexander Pantages builds the Pantages Theatre at 2nd and Seneca. Alexander Pantages
  • January 31 1904

    Actress Alberta Gallatin opens her production of Ibsen’s Ghosts at the Grand Opera House. Seattle’s Argus reviewer is not impressed and describes the play as a “mass of putrid rot from start to finish.” (Argus, February 6, 1904)
  • May 1904

    The Four Cohans appear at the Grand Opera House in George M. Cohan’s Running for Office.
  • 1906

    The Lois Theatre, built by Alexander Pantages and named for his wife, opens.
  • 1907

    The Third Avenue Theatre is torn down during the Third Avenue regrade.
  • December 28 1907

    The Moore Theatre, located at 2nd and Virginia, opens with a production of The Alaskan. Moore Theatre
  • April 9 1908

    Renowned English actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell opens at the Moore Theatre in The Second Mrs. Tanqueray. She also performs in The Notorious Mrs. Ebbsmith, Hedda Gabler and Magda on subsequent evenings.
  • 1909

    Nippon Kan Theatre, located at 622 South Washington Street, opens and provides a venue for theatrical performances and community events for Seattle’s Japanese community. Nippon Kan Theatre
  • June 1 1909

    Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition opens on the grounds of the University of Washington.
  • July 1909

    Ethel Barrymore appears at the Moore Theatre in the title role of W. Somerset Maugham’s Lady Frederick. Ethel Barrymore
  • July 12 1909

    The Alhambra Theatre opens with Mrs. Minnie Maddern Fiske performing in Salvation Nell. Alhambra Theatre
  • October 10 1910

    Lionel Barrymore performs in the vaudeville production of White Slaver at the Orpheum Theatre. Lionel Barrymore
  • November 8 1910

    Women in Washington State win the right to vote.
  • May 14 1911

    Olga Nethersole appears at the Moore Theatre in Maeterlinck’s Sister Beatrice.
  • June 12 1912

    Maude Adams opens in Chantecler at the Metropolitan Theatre. Maude Adams
  • November 1912

    Dustin Farnum appears in the role of Colonel Morrison in Edward People’s The Littlest Rebel at the Metropolitan Theatre.
  • February 1913

    The Smith Tower, Seattle’s first skyscraper, is completed.
  • June 16 1913

    Blanche Bates appears in Witness for the Defense at the Metropolitan Theatre. Blanche Bates
  • September 1 1913

    Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel perform in Fred Karno’s A Night in a London Club at the Empress Theatre. Charlie Chaplin
  • December 20 1913

    Otis Skinner plays in Kismet at the Metropolitan Theatre.
  • January 1914

    Robert Mantell performs in King John at the Moore Theatre.
  • January 25 1915

    Johnston Forbes Robertson begins his farewell visit to Seattle with a performance of Hamlet at the Moore Theatre, followed by The Light That Failed and The Passing of the Third Floor Back later in the week.
  • 1917

    The Alhambra Theatre is renamed Wilkes Theatre. Alhambra Theatre
  • June 1918

    Sarah Bernhardt returns to the Moore Theatre as part of a vaudeville program in which she performs in Du Theatre au Champ D’honneur and La Dame aux Camelias. Sarah Bernhardt
  • November 1919

    Happy Jack Gardner performs in The War Zone on the Pantages Theatre vaudeville bill.
  • July 13 1920

    Stuart Oliver and Willard Mack open in The Big Chance at the Wilkes Theatre.