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Times change, but the name’s the same | 1,000 Words
What’s in a year?
In 1906, a quake leveled much of San Francisco, the largest ship in the world was launched in Glasgow and the world’s first feature film was produced. In Port Gamble, it was the year the community hall and theater was constructed. The cost was about $12,000.
The community hall was home to community meetings, performance theater, vaudeville and variety shows. In the mid-20th century, it became home to a projection movie theater.
Shuttered in 1958, the space sat quietly dark and vacant until last year when the Roving Players and Pope Resources decided it was time to blow the dust off and invest in a bit of renovation. The original projection room sits as it was when it closed in 1958, complete with the broken stub of a Lucky Strike in the ashtray.
The Roving Players company renamed themselves the Port Gamble Theater Company. Together with Pope Resources, they raised donations with the community and brought the space up to modern codes. They kicked off their first of four show seasons in March with a Neil Simon comedy and are finding this vintage Victorian space a good fit for the shows and audiences.
The big surprise came a few weeks ago when deep cleaning 60 years of dust from the box office to find that naming of the space as the Port Gamble Theater was actually a harkening back to the vintage days of the 1940s and ’50s. We uncovered ticket stubs that validated the historical significance of the space as a theater and named as such.
The sign on the building now reads “Port Gamble Theater, established 1906 and 2012.” Welcome back to the old days.
— Brad Camp is a co-owner of the Olympic Photo Group, a Kingston-based full-service production photo studio. Find out more about OPG at www.olympicphotogroup.com. He’s also a member of the Port Gamble Theater Company.