The Holly Theatre was constructed in Medford in 1930 and was an icon of Medford’s downtown district, bringing families downtown to see the latest films and serving as a catalyst for business activity. Like many movie palaces of its era, the Holly was bigger than life -- replete with ornate woodworking, a highly decorated interior, a grand neon sign and marquee, and lavish draperies and furnishings. With an original seating capacity of 1,200, the Holly operated until 1986, when changes in the motion picture industry caused many downtown, single-screen movie houses to close. This project will restore the Holly Theatre, creating a live performance venue that honors the heritage of the building while having the functionality of a modern facility.
The project will be under taken by Jefferson Live!, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the nonprofit JPR Foundation, with the mission to foster the arts in Southern Oregon and Northern California. The JPR Foundation has experience restoring and operating historic theatres having successfully completed restoration of the Cascade Theatre in downtown Redding, California in 2004. That project, which is similar in scale to the Holly Theatre project, involved extensive historic preservation work, coupled with innovative architectural design to create a facility that is both historically authentic and capable of supporting a wide range of contemporary cultural events.
When the Holly theatre restoration is complete, the two theaters will operate in tandem, creating opportunities for new programming and operational efficiencies for both communities.
• Historic Preservation – The Holly Theatre building has been recognized as having both national and statewide historic significance and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Designed by noted Medford architect, Frank C. Clark, in a Spanish Colonial Revival style, the Holly Theatre was built at a cost $100,000. Newspaper accounts described the elegant and unique architectural elements that appeared throughout the building. Restoring the Holly Theatre will preserve one of Medford’s nationally recognized historic structures.
• Supporting the Arts – Restoring the Holly will support additional music, film and HD Cinema events that complement the offerings of other Rogue Valley venues. With a seating capacity 36% larger than the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater, the Holly will be capable of presenting touring acts that currently bypass Medford and the Rogue Valley because of a lack of a large enough indoor venue during the Fall, Winter and Spring presenting seasons. Over the past several years, artists such as Merle Haggard, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Cray, Jo Dee Messina, Bruce Hornsby, Joan Osborne, and Clint Black have performed in Redding at the Cascade Theatre but skipped Medford. In operating the Holly, the JPR Foundation will consult and collaborate with the region’s performing arts organizations, including the Britt Festivals and the Craterian Theater, to explore and develop partnerships that promote operational efficiency, organizational capacity and cultural opportunities for Rogue Valley residents. When completed, it is projected that the Holly will have a seating capacity of approximately 1,000.
• Community Development/Economic Revitalization -- In hundreds of cities across the nation, the development of historic theatres has produced enormous economic benefits for downtown districts -- bringing people back downtown, expanding downtown activity after 5pm and during weekends and stimulating the growth of restaurants and other businesses supporting the activities of the theatre. Authentically restored theatres are generally widely supported by the public because they unite older audiences interested in preserving a community’s heritage with younger audiences interested in contemporary entertainment. Restoring the Holly will provide an important destination for downtown Medford’s west side and serve as a catalyst for continued revitalization of Medford’s downtown district.
The total cost of this project is estimated to be $3.5 million.