The Patricia Theatre
Information contributed by Ann Nelson.
Designed by Henry Holdsby Simmonds, who designed most of Vancouver’s early theatres, including the restored Stanley Theatre on Granville Street (built two years after the Patricia Theatre). The Patricia Theatre was built by Smellie & Gallagher, and was commissioned by Bobby Scanlon (son of one of the founders of the Powell River Company) and Myron McLeod in 1928. It replaced the first Patricia Theatre built in 1913, just down the street. We have the blueprints submitted for approval in March 1928. Two of the Company houses were removed from site to make room for this gorgeous little Spanish Revival/Atmospheric style building on its corner lot, and that construction started in July 1928 with the first film being shown, “What Women Want”, on November 5, 1928. Following a naming contest in 1913, the theatre was named after Princess Patricia, granddaughter of Queen Victoria, and daughter of Canada’s then Governor General, the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn.
There were originally 450 Heywood Wakefield seats installed: 28 balcony, 28 loge, and 394 general; and a Robert Morton organ, which was sold off in the 1970’s. The last organist, Henry Pavid, installed a series of his own organs starting with a Wurlitzer and ending with a Baldwin Cinema II, which the family restored to the theatre upon his death at the age of 94.
In 1982, 260 functioning Heywood Wakefield seats were salvaged from the old Penmar Theatre in Penticton, and after a seat sponsorship plan, 260 seats from the Orpheum Theatre were installed in 2009, replacing the older worn out Penmar seats.
Our family is the fourth owner of the Patricia Entertainment Company since 1913, and relocated our picture framing business into one of the two original storefronts, utilizing the second storefront as our concession area. The professional offices upstairs have been converted into a suite and offices for our businesses. We are still a single screen independent, showing first run movies, art films, with traditional theatre organ music before each show on the Baldwin Cinema II organ, staging live vaudeville/burlesque shows, theatre performances, concerts, dance recitals, weddings and speaking engagements. We are open 364 days a year, with many matinee weekends for kids’ movies, and still employ high school students, who learn how to be employees and how to interact positively with the public whilst working alongside the adult staff.
Our projection equipment has been updated to include some 1940’s cameras and 1960’s Xenon lamp houses on the original 1920’s supports. The carbon arc still projector for the glass preview slides and the carbon arc followspot for the vaudeville acts are gone, but we still use the original re-wind bench and equipment. In May 2012, the Patricia was equipped with digital projectors and Dolby surround sound, and has retained its superb live performance acoustics after installation of acoustic panels to balance the recorded sound.