“This is such an iconic piece of Tacoma history, and a staple of growing up in the Proctor District.”
Tucked neatly in Tacoma’s Proctor District is the oldest continuously operating theater in Washington state. The 205-seat Blue Mouse Theatre is a treasured community staple, showing a select variety of vintage and modern classic films and providing a perfect centralized community event space to the heart of the city.
The Blue Mouse exists primarily as a “community oriented business”. We provide a place for the community to gather, and find significant success in our capacity to make the Proctor Business district a more connected and engaging neighborhood. In the original prospectus survey for the incorporation of the Blue Mouse Partners, “financial return” was quite a low priority for the majority of investors. We have been and will continue to be focused primarily on the community with the business aspects of the Blue Mouse working to serve that primary focus.
The Blue Mouse contributes to Proctor by being relevant, current, inviting and exciting.
That primary focus established, we are also stewards of a business and a building. We owe our shareholders a financially responsible stewardship of this business and building.
History of the Blue Mouse
On Tuesday evening, November 13, 1923, John Hamrick’s Blue Mouse Theatre had its Grand Opening on Proctor Street. It was named after a lounge in Paris, France, which showed the latest rage, ‘flicks’.
“A spectacular melodrama” called The Green Goddess was the first ‘picture show’ projected on the theatre’s ‘silent screen’. The headline in the Tacoma News Tribune called it the “Finest Suburban Theater in the Northwest”. The account in the newspaper the next day stated that “every one of the 220 seats was occupied and a good sized overflow greeted the management”.
The community theater prospered and in 1932 it was purchased by Will Conner and renamed the Proctor Theater. Forty years later, in 1972, he sold it and it was eventually renamed the Bijou in 1980.
Threatened by a proliferation of huge theater chain multiplexes, hard times fell upon neighborhood movie theaters in the late 80s and 90s. In 1993 a small group of activists and preservationists, fearing that a plan to “re-adapt” the theater into office space might become the buildings fate, joined together to purchase and restore the property. To this day they call themselves the Blue Mouse Associates.
Under layers of paint, wood veneer and glass tiles put on in the ‘30s and ‘40s they discovered the original Craftsman-style timbering, stucco, brick pillars, globe light sconces, polished marble terrazzo and original mahogany doors. The same was the case with interior renovation. The theater’s original architectural charm was rediscovered in craftsmen staircases, chandelier surround, an ornate trellis around the proscenium arch, decorated capitals atop side wall columns and Tiffany-style glass exit signs. At 100-years-old, the Blue Mouse is a community treasure and one of the very oldest continuously operating movie theaters in the country.