The Kiggins Theater
, located at 1011 Main Street in scenic downtown Vancouver, Washington
, is a single-screen, Art Deco movie theater
completed in 1936. Named after a 1920s
mayor of Vancouver, J.P. Kiggins, the theater started out showing first-run
popular films through a Simplex projection
system. Finely crafted period architectural details are sprinkled tastefully around the lobby, theater and on the sweeping spiral staircase to the second-floor lounges.
During WWII, the huge influx of workers to the Kaiser shipyards brought plenty of business to the Kiggins, the Broadway (since demolished to make way for the Seafirst Center) and other area theaters. The whole downtown Vancouver area reached its peak during this period, with a thriving nightlife and dozens of eateries and bars.
The Kiggins is supposedly haunted. Several people have seen ghostly figures in the basement and other strange corners of the building; there is an underground tunnel running for a block or two south from the theater on Main Street; rumors of smuggling and black market abortions in the area during the late 19th and early 20th centuries add to the intriguing possibilities of the source of the haunting.
As the popularity of television rose in the postwar period, the Kiggins fought to keep its customers coming in. By the 1990s, it was run-down and barely scraping by, showing second-run films to a dwindling audience at $1 double feature matinees. There was even talk of demolition, as it was finally forced to close in 1997.
Fortunately, in that year a Portland, Oregon businessman who already owned a small fleet of classic theaters in the area bought the Kiggins and did a brilliant restoration job on it. These days it's found a niche in family movies - kids and their parents line up around the block several times a week. There is talk of turning the Kiggins into an art house with foreign and indie flicks, since the new Regal Cinemas 10-plex downtown has attracted most of the audience for newer films.
Historical info from the official website at http://www.kiggins.com. The rest comes from my too many years living in the Couve.