2021.10.1 Lamp House

In April of 2021, we were invited to Ace Hardware’s storage facility here in Taft. The building used to be the Lincoln Theatre, which ran from 1932 until the mid-1950s. It now houses various hardware overstock and there is little evidence that the building was once a popular movie theatre. Upstairs in the old projection room was a different story. We were able to salvage old ticket stubs, local business advertising records, an Olympia Brewing beer can, an invoice for an order of Coca Cola, and more dating back to the 1940s and 1950s. The prize find was this Ashcraft Suprex Lamphouse from the projector system for the theatre. The lamphouse is now on display in our mini theatre.

The above image shows how the lamp house was used with the reels. Basically, a bright lamp that was housed in the lamp house would shine light through the attached film reels that you see on the right and would project the image onto the screen. Click on the photo to see an article on a projection booth from the Roxie Theatre in Montana. They used a similar Ashcraft Lamp House from 1953-1980 and detail some of their procedures.

This image shows the projection room of the old Lincoln Theatre as of 2021. The lamp house and reels would sit atop the stand that you see in the photo and project through the square cutout in the wall.

This is a view through the square cutout to the back wall where the movie screen was located. This floor was once lined with movie theatre chairs and now houses overstock for Ace Hardware.

The Lincoln Theatre in 1940

The Lincoln Theatre opened on May 27th, 1932, by C.T. Dewey. Shortly after, William McKevitt took over the theatre. The McKevitt family also ran the Midway Theatre in Newport and the Lakeside Theatre (now the Bijou Theatre) in Oceanlake. William’s son Bob took over operation of the theatres in 1946 when he returned from WWII. In the mid-1950s, the Lincoln Theatre was repurposed as a supply company called Lincoln Supply. The projection room laid dormant for the many following decades. Many of the items were either removed or badly damaged over the years, but luckily some were left behind to help tell the story of this once bustling theatre. Below are some of these salvaged items that are now in the museum’s collection.

The museum also displays some of the movie posters from the Lincoln Theatre. The backsides of these posters were used as scrapbook paper and a two-inch swath was cut out of the middle of each. Volunteer Craig Anderson digitally spliced these posters back together and they are now on display in our mini theatre.

Our mini theatre features movie chairs from the Lincoln Theatre, and we play historical movies for museum visitors. We also feature a display case full of the items salvaged from the Lincoln Theatre’s projection room.

Bob (Robert) Mckevitt interviewed in 1981 for the News Guard

This lamp house helps tell the story of Taft’s once bustling theatre, the Lincoln Theatre. We keep the spirit alive through our mini theatre here at the museum. We are happy to have the opportunity to preserve some of the items from a place that brought much joy for many years. Come check out our mini theatre and enjoy a local historical film.