The Blue Mice

The Blue Mouse theater on Broadway anchored the south end of the Blue Mouse Marvin_D_Boland_Collection_BOLANDB5755.en.croptheater district during the 1920’s, a boom time when prohibition, Camp Lewis and a reputation for entertainment created a magnet for downtown Tacoma. Here’s a daytime view looking north from Broadway and 13th in April 1926 into the heart of the theater district. At the time Tacoma had 25 movie theaters and even more live and vaudeville venues. John Hamrick, a colorful impresario who supposedly took the name from a Shubert operetta he attended in London, used it on his theaters in Seattle, Portland, Corvallis, Astoria and several smaller cities.

Since he renamed the downtown Tacoma theater the Blue Mouse (formerly the Apollo) his smaller house in the Proctor district was dubbed the Blue Mouse Junior. In Tacoma, the 650 seat Blue Mouse showed the first talkie in the city, Al Jolson’s notorious “The Jazz Singer”.

Blue Mouse Marvin_D_Boland_Collection_BOLANDB5755.en.crop.2
Little Usher, April 1922

The big Blue Mouse marked the south end of Tacoma’s theater district tucked into a busy block full of retail stores and hotels. It is estimated that more than half of Tacoma’s population went to the movies more than once a week in the late 1930’s and 40’s keeping mid size double feature movie houses like the Blue Mouse in operation every night with matinees on the week ends.

Blue Mouse Marvin_D_Boland_Collection_BOLANDB5755.en

All of Hamrick’s Blue Mice are gone now, lost to urban renewal, the television and multiplexes- all, that is except for the Blue Mouse Jr. in Tacoma’s Proctor district still illuminated the silver screen since 1923. The last of the mighty Blue Mice.

 

Blue Mouse
Broadway 1926
Blue Mouse downtown.Richards_Studio_A114931.en
Broadway , Summer 1941
Blue Mouse.Richards_Studio_A13181.en
Saturday Morning at The Blue Mouse, ca. 1926

 

 

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Blue Mouse, Portland 1955

Blue Mouse Theatre

Blue Mouse Theatre
Blue Mouse, 1421 5th Avenue, Seattle ca. 1920

 

bluemouse proctor

Blue Mouse, Proctor District, Tacoma,,,Last of the Blue Mice

Written by TacomaHistory

This site is about the way history, in this case of a city and it's surrounds, is remembered or recorded in stories and small bits of memory. It's also about the way images and stories go together, how they inform and enrich each other and how we as thinking people fill in the content between a narrative and a visual document. So here is my city in time past, the way it looked and the people and events that create its character. For more than 20 years I have taught a 5 credit course on the History of Tacoma at the University of Washington Tacoma. With an average of 30 or 40 students a year, each doing a research paper as their primary focus for the course, I have benefited from many paths of inquiry and many researched and assembled stories. Here are some of them in the retelling along with the treasures of photographs and images in the collections of the Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma Public Library, University of Washington Digital Archives, Washington State Archives at the Office of the Secretary of State, Library of Congress, Washington State University, Alaska State Library, and many other archives, libraries and private collections.

1 comment

  1. Wasn’t there a Blue Mouse or maybe another theater on Pacific Ave. about 1952-3, between 11th & 13th east side of the street?

    Like

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