Window on the Clearwater
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Lynn Frei of Mililani, HI; John Werner of New York; and Ray, Norton, Tom McTevia and Carol and Alan Hengen all of Orofino sent in the correct answer today.

The Rex Theatre is the answer to the 52nd Week of Orofino History Trivia.

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The Rex Theatre has been the host to generations of Orofino residents and though its movies have changed from silent to talkies to some day digital, entertainment is still the key. One of Orofino's young people, Al Martin, played his accordion outside the theatre the afternoon of Saturday, March 18.

J.H. 'Bert' Miller built Orofino's Rex Theatre in 1914. It had a capacity of 300 people, according to information at the Clearwater Historical Museum.

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In a copy of a very brief description signed by Miller, Vivian Perry was cashier and Ted Reid, operator. Business was "satisfactory". "My sincere and kindest regards to posterity," it concludes above his signature. It appears to be an entry for a time capsule, but is not marked as such.

In the early days, the theatre played silent movies and a piano pit is still in evidence. Miller sold the business to A.J. Wagner in 1954.

The Wagner family still owns the Rex and the Blue Fox Theatre in Grangeville. In the early days when they owned it, they ran more westerns, because that is what was being made. While the structure is the same, a new furnace and new seating have been added, according to Wagners. Gone with the Wind was one of the most popular early movies and The Chronicles of Narnia are very popular now.

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Wagners said over the years, the equipment has changed and they will need to go digital soon and keep both the Rex and Blue Fox running.

The Rex, with its sloping floor and balcony was built specifically as a move theatre. Its side lamps and some of the other decor are unique, according to Wagners.

Over the years, the equipment has changed and they will need to go digital soon, A.J. said. He added that both Orofino and Grangeville can be proud that as small towns they have their own theatres.

According to Miller's obituary in the Aug. a, 1963 issue of the Clearwater Tribune, he was born in Iowa City, Iowa in 1878. He lived in Montana and Sandpoint before coming to Orofino to establish the Rex. He died at his home in Phoenix, AZ in July 1963.

Early day advertisements for some of the silent movies were printed even at the top of the local newspaper and quite large. (Above right, courtesy of Clearwater Historical Museum) The museum also has a number of examples of glass slides that were used at the theatre to advertise local businesses. The advertisements were shown on the screen much as movie previews are shown today. (Above left)

Monday: Going digital.

Tuesday: Always changing.

Wednesday: Established 1914.

Thursday: Sloping.

Friday: Goes good with popcorn.

Trivia Archives

Sponsored by Les Schwab Tire Center:

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302 Johnson Ave. * Orofino, ID 83544 * 208-476-5589

For more Information & Products, check the Les Schwab web site.

Window on the Clearwater
P.O. Box 2444
Orofino, ID 83544
Fax: 208-476-3407