Joe Fitzgibbon

Joe Fitzgibbon has a B.S. degree in education from University of Dayton, with majors in English and political science, and an M.A. degree in literature from University of Oklahoma. He received NEH grants to study at Yale and NYC and is currently a writing instructor at Portland Community College. He worked as a journalist for the Oregonian for over twenty-five years and is the author of Persona Writing and Advanced Persona Writing (Sundance/Boston). He is currently working on a book on the history of Oregon's movie theaters.

Author's Entries

  • Astoria (book, 1836)

    Although Washington Irving (1783-1859) never traveled to Oregon Country, he wrote one of the most widely read and influential narratives of the region. His two-volume Astoria, or Anecdotes of an Enterprise beyond the Rocky Mountains, published in 1836, introduced more readers to the Pacific Northwest than any single …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • Bagdad Theater

    From its grand opening on January 14, 1927, as movie theater and “Oasis for Entertainment,” to its recent incarnation as a theater pub, the Bagdad Theatre has been an important landmark in Portland’s Hawthorne District.  Located on Southeast 37th Avenue and Hawthorne Boulevard, the five-story building covers four city lots and houses the …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater at the Collier Center

    When fourteen-year-old Virginia Katherine McMath, better known as Ginger Rogers, danced onto the stage of the Craterian Theater on April 21, 1926, she dazzled Medford audiences. Many years later, on November 21, 1993, the sixty-seven-year-old actress was on the same stage to urge residents and business leaders to save the …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • Elgin Opera House

    The Elgin Opera House, pride of the town of Elgin, Oregon (pop. 1,685), in the Blue Mountains of Union County, is once again as beautiful and regal as on its dedication on, July 4, 1912. The Opera House/City Hall was built to house administrative offices and promote the growth of …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • Elsinore Theater

    Named after the sixteenth-century Danish castle in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the Elsinore Theater in Salem, Oregon, opened for silent films and vaudeville shows on May 28, 1926. It was heralded as the “largest and most lavish theater between Portland and San Francisco.” In the decades since attorney and art …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • Guild Theater

    The Guild Theater in downtown Portland is the last survivor of the city's Midtown Blocks entertainment district that dazzled audiences in the 1930s and included the Heilig, Empress, Liberty, and Majestic theaters. In the twenty-first century, the former movie house, at 829 Southwest Park (9th) Avenue, stands vacant, rusting, and neglected, like …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • Hollywood Theatre

    On July 17, 1926, Claude C. Jensen and John G. von Herberg, owners of a string of over thirty silent movie theaters from Los Angeles to Seattle, opened the 1,500-seat Hollywood Theatre with great fanfare as a companion to their ornate Liberty Theatre in Astoria, Oregon. Rose City Park residents …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • Houston Opera House

      The story of the Houston Opera House begins with the arrival of John V. Houston and his family from Colorado in 1894 and ends twenty-six years later with a tragic fire. When Houston stepped from his stagecoach in Klamath Falls that year, many vestiges of the Wild West remained, …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • Joseph T. (Ted) Francis (1900-1999)

    Before his death at age ninety-eight on June 30, 1999, Joseph "Ted" Francis was dean of Oregon’s single-screen cinemas. A slight man who shunned retirement, Francis spent decades climbing the well-worn carpeted stairs of the historic Cameo Theater in Newberg. “I don’t drink or chase women,” he often laughed. “This …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • Liberty Theater (La Grande)

    La Grande businessman Stephen Gardinier and his wife Madeline opened the two-story Liberty Theatre in 1910—originally named the Orpheum, and later the Arcade—to capture the silent movie craze sweeping the nation and to provide a first-class venue for vaudeville shows traveling the West Coast. The commercial-style building, with its solid …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • Portland Paramount Theatre/Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

    The Portland Paramount Theatre once dominated the city’s Great White Way, a series of brightly lit cinemas that dazzled downtowners along Southwest Broadway Street. The ornate building still stands as an architectural treasure that anchors Portland’s cultural scene. Nearly razed in the 1980s, the renamed Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall has …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • Rogue Theatre

    During some of the darkest days of the Depression, Grants Pass residents and business owners enthusiastically welcomed the opening of the Rogue Theatre. The eye-catching exterior included bright green, black, and white glazed tiles and a large marquee topped with an illuminated neon sign spelling out the theater's name. The …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • Stu Rasmussen (1948-)

    In a state heralded for its tolerance, Stu Rasmussen stands out. The charismatic city council member of Silverton—serving terms in 1984-1996 and 2004-2008—was the first openly transgender mayor in the United States. He/she (the pronoun that Rasmussen prefers) once described himself/herself as “a dude, a heterosexual man who appears to …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • The Dalles Civic Auditorium and Veterans Memorial

    On April 7, 1922, four years after the armistice ended World War I, an emotional crowd packed into The Dalles Civic Auditorium and Veterans Memorial to dedicate the new three-story building. They were gathered to honor Wasco County’s nearly three thousand veterans, including members of the highly decorated 41st Infantry …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • Tower Theatre

    The Tower Theatre is Bend’s most colorful and iconic landmark. Since the theater’s opening on March 6, 1940, residents have heralded the building’s Streamline Moderne design, especially the four-story column above the marquee, where “Tower” is spelled out in large neon letters. Following the Depression, many people saw the building …

    Oregon Encyclopedia

  • Venetian Theater

    The Venetian’s storied history begins in 1911, when former gold miner and semi-pro baseball player Orange “Pappy” Phelps purchased the 200-seat Grand Theater on Main Street in Hillsboro, Oregon. In 1916, with America's entry into World War I looming, he changed the name to the patriotic-sounding Liberty Theatre. The two-story …

    Oregon Encyclopedia