Blue Mouse Theatre, TV Tacoma win Washington State historic preservation awards

Blue Mouse Theatre Associates and TV Tacoma have been named as recipients of the State Historic Preservation Officer’s Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Historic Preservation by the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP).

The announcement was made March 25 by Historic Tacoma and the City of Tacoma.

The awards program, which began in 1990, recognizes persons, organizations, and projects that have achieved distinction in the field of historic preservation in Washington, according to DAHP. It also provides the opportunity to recognize persons, organizations, and projects that have achieved distinction in the field of historic preservation during National Historic Preservation Month in May.

Award recipients will be recognized May 5 at 3:00 p.m. during a special ceremony held in the Legislative Building on the historic State Capitol Campus. State Historic Preservation Officer Dr. Allyson Brooks will preside over the awards ceremony.

For more information about the awards, visit


On Dec. 16, Tacoma City Council added the 85-year-old Blue Mouse Theatre to Tacoma’s register of historic places after it was nominated by the Blue Mouse Theater Associates — a group of more than a dozen friends and neighbors living in Tacoma’s Proctor neighborhood who put up their own money to keep the Blue Mouse Theater alive.

According to the nomination, the Blue Mouse Theatre, located at 2611 N. Proctor St., was designed by architect Fitzherbert Leather, and built by Albert Miller. The 420-seat, 4,100-square-foot theatre was opened Nov. 13, 1923 by theatre mogul John Hamrick. The first movie shown at the Proctor theatre was a silent film called “Green Goddess” and starring George Arliss and Alice Joyce.

Hamrick opened four other theatres with the Blue Mouse name, including one in Seattle in 1920, Portland in 1921, downtown Tacoma in 1922, and the Proctor District venue (known for a time as “Blue Mouse Junior”). He went on to own the Temple Theatre, the Music Box, and the Roxy Theatre in Tacoma.

The downtown Blue Mouse Theatre, located at 1131 Broadway, was demolished in 1960 to make way for an ill-fated “moving sidewalk.”
But the Proctor location survived.

It also changed ownership many times.

Between 1923 and 1945, it was owned by Hamrick, who died Nov. 30, 1956. In 1945, the theatre was purchased by Glendon O. Spencer, who in turn sold it to Conner Theaters Corporation in 1973.

The new owner struggled to operate the venue as a first-run movie house. Five years later, the theatre was sold to a group of Seattle investors and renamed The Bijou. The new owners also struggled to turn a profit.

In 1981, it was sold to Galaxy Theaters.

Seven years later, the theater was purchased by Shirley Mayo. She operated it until declining health forced her to sell the movie house in 1993. One developer wanted to purchase the building and convert it into office space, but Mayo refused. Instead, she approached long-time Proctor resident Bill Evans about purchasing the building and preserving it as a theater. Evans, in turn, approached a group of friends who raised $140,000 to complete the purchase. The group, known as the Blue Mouse Associates, spent five months and $90,000 restoring the building to its original 1923 charm.

Today, the theatre seats 221 people. It is believed to be the oldest continuously run theatre in Washington State.


According to the City of Tacoma, TV Tacoma is being recognized for programming that highlights the City’s rich heritage and architectural landmarks. The station has produced nearly two-dozen feature length historical programs, including “Beginnings,” “The Castle on the Hill,” “A Tale of Three Bridges,” and many others that emphasize an appreciation for preserving local landmarks, including the Java Jive.

TV Tacoma can be seen on Channel 12 in Tacoma city limits, on Channel 21 in Pierce County (except University Place) and on channel 85 on Click! Cable TV in University Place. For more information about TV Tacoma, vist .

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For earlier Index coverage of the Blue Mouse Theatre landmark nomination, click on the following links:

1. Tacoma City Council will decide Blue Mouse Theatre historic nomination (11/14/08) —

2. Public hearing Nov. 12 for Blue Mouse Theatre historic nomination (10/24/08) —

3. Landmarks Commission will consider Blue Mouse Theatre historic nomination (10/17/08) —

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