History

photo by Dylan Priest

The Columbia City Theater boasts one of the most beautiful settings for live music and performance in Seattle. The theater reopened on June 25th, 2010 to rave reviews and was featured in Seattle Weekly’s “Best of Seattle” list after being open for less than two months. It has since been dubbed “The city’s finest sounding room,” by SPIN Magazine and its front bar/Bourbon Room “Tuesday Night Music Club” has been listed by The Stranger as the best open mic in Seattle. In 2016, the Theater gained new management who have added a youth education multimedia performing arts program, more diverse programming overall and plans for a television show, restaurant and increased private event opportunities.

Theater History

The Columbia City Theater as it stood in the 1950's

The Columbia City Theater was built in 1920 and officially opened in 1923. The Theater is one of the oldest vaudeville style theaters in the State of Washington. The Columbia City Theater was built originally as an old-time movie house. It has gone back and forth several times from movie house to live venue over the years. Having played a major role in the Seattle Jazz boom in the 40's, the theater played host off the beaten path to the likes of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles and Fats Waller. During the 1950's the theater served as a neighborhood movie theater, where neighborhood residents have recalled attending Saturday morning movies as kids seeing classics like Flash Gordon and the Our Gang series. During the 1960's, the theater began hosting live events once more and was one of the first venues to host the legendary Jimi Hendrix.

During the early 1980's, the theater was a home to much of the DIY punk movement and the touring networks that were created to support it. It even was an art commune at one point, and a place that specifically hosted raves under the name “The Lish House”.

The Theater reopened as an actual public theater in July 2010 as the Columbia City Theater we know now and has been on rise ever since. The Theater has been proud to host many fantastic artists including Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Chris Cornell, Wilco, The Lumineers, The Head and the Heart, Fleet Foxes, Father John Misty, Everclear, Damien Jurado, Robyn Hitchcock, Noah Gundersen, Cameron Miles Jones & Gypsy Temple, Ayron Jones & the Way, Lissie, Griffin House, Andra Day, Ro James, Smino, Behind The Lights/Next Step Youth Programs, The Lara Lavi Band and The SongCatchers, not to mention countless KEXP & KNKX benefit shows all to rave reviews.

The Columbia City Theater is located at 4916 Rainier Ave S, Seattle WA 98118