McMenamins Bagdad Theater & Pub

Abstract— This article presents facts and general information about McMenamins Bagdad Theater & Pub in Portland, Oregon, USA, one of the most beloved Portland stops. This article includes information such as the history, description, and architectural features of this building.


Situated in Hawthorne District in Portland, Oregon, USA, the Bagdad Theater is a well-known movie theater built-in 1927. The local McMenamins chain owns the Bagdad Theater and attached pub.


Bagdad Theater was built by Universal Studios for $100,000 and opened on January 14, 1927.

Portland architecture Lee Arden Thomas was the man behind the design of this historic edifice. Thomas later on combined efforts with Albert Mercier to work on other projects involving theaters in Oregon.

While Lee Arden Thomas was designing the Bagdad Theater, he integrated a Middle-Eastern approach in almost all characteristics of the building.

In the 1980s, while the majority of the cities were closing their old theaters to make room for big new multiplexes, Portland didn’t follow the trend. There were numerous grand theaters built in the 1920s, and many of them are still open.

In 1973, Larry Moyer of Moyer Theaters purchased the property and built a new wall dividing the balcony edge in half, making two separate theaters. He shut down a fragment of the stage in the back end of the building and opened an intimate theater with the name of Back Stage.

Mike and Brian McMenamin bought the theater in 1991 and reopened it as the Bagdad Theatre and Pub.

The Bagdad Theater hosted some remarkable film premiers. Including One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1975 and Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho after the McMenamins brothers embraced and renovated the cinema in 1991. The theater has also arranged and organized countless events, such as the Powell’s Books Author Series, live music, stand-up comedy, local and independent film screenings, and even private gatherings.

In 2013 the theater made substantial improvements and upgrades to show first-run movies: a 50% larger screen (25 feet tall and 46 feet wide), 20,000-watt amplifier system, 7.1 sound, a 4K Prime digital projector, and more comfortable 24-inch-wide seats for its clients.

Description and Architecture

Located on Southeast 37th Avenue and Hawthorne Boulevard, the building has a rectangular structure and is made mainly of reinforced concrete covered with a cement-based plaster called stucco. The Bagdad has a beige exterior and a red-tiled roof. Inside the theater has a large stage and a fountain. Middle-Eastern motifs inspired the decoration of the theater.

Today, patrons can enjoy films, speakers, and live acts while relaxing with slices of pizza and burgers in this gorgeous theater with classic charm and modern and upgraded amenities.

An evening here will bring you right back to that luxurious vintage age of movie-going and is the main reason the Bagdad Theater has been (and hopefully will always be) an essential entertainment landmark in the life of people of Portland.

Next Up: Learn About Oaks Amusement Park



McMenamins: Bagdad Theatre & Pub

Wikipedia: Bagdad Theatre

The Oregon Encyclopedia: Bagdad Theatre

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