On July 20, 1909, the Dime Theater opens in Walla Walla, Washington. A storefront theater typical of the period, the Dime seated 400 and offered a series of one- and two-reel silent films, with bills changing several times a week.
Owned and operated by Clarence C. Crews, the Dime had several features that made the house unique. One was the venue’s marquee, its name brilliantly illuminated by nearly 200 Tungsten lamps. The front doors of the house were mirrored, and were reportedly French in origin. Decorative lattice work on the front of the venue provided the house with a natural ventilation system, allowing the outside breeze to blow in during Eastern Washington’s hot summer months. This lattice was then covered with canvas during the winter to keep heat inside.
The Dime also boasted a heated air system, a house orchestra of four, and a projection booth constructed entirely of steel. (Early film stock being highly flammable, projection booths were often constructed of steel and designed such that they could be sealed off in case of emergency. While offering a degree of fire safety, the practice also made for miserable working conditions for early projectionists. Many endured shifts of 10-12 hours, 6 days a week, in rooms that heated up to 100-plus degrees even during the colder months.)