Location: 1010 Willamette St, Downtown Eugene
The McDonald Theatre opened May 7, 1925 and served as a community theatre for both stage and screen performances. After the explosion of motion pictures, the theatre was converted into a movie house and operated as such until 2000.
According to an article in the Daily Emerald, the theater was originally named Lowell Theater, “Tonight, a big night in the history of Eugene, theater lovers will be welcomed to the new Lowell theater, named in honor of, and dedicated to, the intrepid aviator who first circled the globe in air, Lowell Smith. However, one of its founders, Aaron Harding McDonald, passed away days before the grand opening of the theater and only two days after its debut, the theater was renamed in his honor, The McDonald Theater.”
The opening night featured live music, a comedy film and then the feature presentation, “Madame Sans-Gene,” a 1924 film starring Gloria Swanson.
In 2001, Kesey Enterprises began producing concerts and community events in the venue and in 2009, purchased the historic building.
Today, the McDonald Theatre is host to a diverse spectrum of events, from mainstream reggae, to a private weddings, to high school proms, and local children’s stage performances.
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