On August 29, 1930 the Holly Theatre first opened its doors to the public. Construction had begun on the Holly just weeks following the stock market crash and yet the Holly was one of the most ornate and luxurious buildings in the town when it opened to great acclaim. It was a Frank C. Clark building--the architect of the original Craterian Theatre, Harry & David's art deco packing plant and hundreds of the region's finest homes and commercial buildings.
When it opened, the Holly sported the largest illuminated sign in Oregon outside Portland and had every modern amenity. With hundreds of electric lights and 500 feet of neon, it was also the largest electrification project in Southern Oregon or Northern California. It was considered nearly fire proof as one of the first commercial buildings to use gypsum board--or what we now call sheetrock. Highly ornate with dark wood trim and bright colors, the Venetian-themed interior was a welcomed step away from the reality of depression-era Medford.
But in the late 1970s and early 1980s, changes in the movie industry spelled doom for nearly every single-screen movie theater in the country and the Holly closed its doors in 1986. Remodeled many times and falling into disrepair, the Holly languished for decades. Failing ceiling trusses almost spelled the end of the Holly and it was scheduled for demolition--most of its ornate design elements and equipment sold off to the highest bidder.
But restaurateur and businessman, Art Alfinito, wasn't going to allow the once magnificent Holly to be torn down. He purchased the building hoping to be able to restore and reopen it. During his ownership, the theater was placed on the National Register of Historic Places but continued to decline as it became clear that Mr. Alfinito would be unable to realize such a large project.
In 2011 the JPR Foundation purchased the theater and, with the support of the Medford Urban Renewal Agency, immediately embarked on the task of restoring the exterior of the building. That facade restoration won the City of Medford Landmarks Commission's 2013 Historic Preservation Award.
Currently, we are fundraising to finish the interior restoration and bring the Holly Theatre back to life. See the current status of the campaign and make a contribution!