The Tower’s Transition from 1940 to 2004
by RENEE PATRICK Cascade A&E Editor
The Tower Theatre’s history is a rocky one. What started as a movie theatre in the growing mill town of 1940, fell into disrepair decades later, forcing the doors to close. New life was to come however, and through the efforts of a capitol campaign, millions were raise for the restoration of the iconic piece of Bend’s cultural history.
Movie fever came to the high desert in 1940 when the Tower Theatre was first completed. Built in only three months, the original construction included imported travertine marble from Italy, a women’s lounge on the mezzanine floor embellished with knotty pine and a seating capacity of 998. The Tower rose 78 feet above the street and cast a glow with its 1,200 feet of neon tubes of green and gold.
The popular movie Four Wives opened the doors to the first movie-goers and ushered in an era of first-run shows ranging from Disney cartoons to news, shorts and feature films. Primarily a cinema, the performing arts took to the stage from time to time and in 1948 the Theatre added a weekly amateur hour, fashion shows, variety shows and even a performance by the General Platoff Don Cossack chorus from Russia.
The Theatre couldn’t keep pace when multi-screen theatres came to the high desert, and when the owners, a large movie theatre chain, choose not to invest in any up-keep or renovation, the doors closed. A partnership came forward in 1994 and purchased the Theatre. Win and Laurel Francis, Michael and Pat Forman, and Bruce and Sandi Hinchliffe wanted to redevelop the space for retail and office use.
“We thought it would be better for commercial use,” Win Francis recalled, “other people thought it could be a performing arts theatre…ultimately it was the best use for the community, not necessarily financially!” The partnership quickly became invested in the idea of a public theatre when the idea was presented, and with the goal of gauging the demand for a theatre, gave the Regional Arts Council of Central Oregon a discounted lease to operate as a multi-purpose venue.
Thousands of people visited the Tower Theatre over the next two years despite continued disrepair and lack of heat. In 1995 the City of Bend purchased the building and agreed to hold the property until a private non-profit organization could purchase, restore and operate the Theatre, but once again deterioration forced the doors to close in 1996 until the changes could be made.
by RENEE PATRICK Cascade A&E Editor
It all starts with a story. An epic snowboarding season on Mt. Bachelor turns into Snow Monkeys, a tale of a girl and her dog turns into The Collectors and a favorite Christmas movie and memories of being bundled up and unable to move turns into Randy. Each illustration Taylor Rose begins already has a detailed story behind it, and the results are whimsical forays into the playfulness of nature and an invitation to the viewer to create their own story.
Illustrator Taylor Rose moved to Bend late last year with her boyfriend, Tim Jones, after both graduated from art school. Jones is an artist and illustrator as well, but works with a slightly different subject matter, “He likes the horror genre. It’s funny to see our studio, there are foxes and puppies and then a zombie or monster,” Rose said with a laugh.
“We didn’t know anyone in Oregon or Bend, and that’s how we wanted it,” she said. “We wanted something new; we came down McKenzie Pass and that alone blew me away. I’m a pretty avid snowboarder, and seeing the Cascades was exciting to me. There is something really special about Bend. The people and every scene is inspiring.”
Rose taps into the child-like wonder of her upbringing in a small New Hampshire town when she places pen to paper; exploring the forest, mountains and beaches instilled a creative spirit that pays homage to nature, adventures and animals, and her family was pivotal in nurturing that passion from the very beginning when she used to sell them her early art for a nickel or dime.
“I have been drawing since I was about two with crayons and pencils, and it continued through middle school and high school when I decided to pursue art in college,” she explained. “It was in college that I really found my style and thought, ‘This is it, this is what I want to do and have to do.’”
Her mediums of pen, ink and watercolor took on a deeper meaning once she took a class on children’s books. Discovering the art of storytelling, she knew in each piece she created she wanted there to be a story. In fact, it needed to lead the creation. Many of her illustrations start with short stories she has written herself or inspirations from childhood cartoons. “Each illustration begins with my imagination, which thrives in being surrounded by nature, wildlife, cartoons and comics,” she explained.
In addition to watching a lot of cartoons, she looks to other creatives like digital artist Brett Bean and early 20th century watercolorist Edmund Dulac for insight. “Dulac is one of the first people to tell children’s stories through art, it’s pretty inspirational. Bean does a lot of concept work on animation and cartoons and I love everything that Laika does (an animation studio that produced recent movies like ParaNorman).