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Seattle's iconic Neptune Theatre celebrates 100 years of entertainment

The U-District spot opened its doors in 1921.

SEATTLE — When it opened in Seattle's U-Distinct in the fall of 1921, the U-Neptune Theatre as it was known then was toasted as the city's most modern movie house, with one of the most state of the art sound systems in the country.

"Back in the day when it was a silent film theater, they had an organ over here, a pipe organ, and these grinds up here is where the pipes were living and it was all steam-driven and a serious operation," said Dan Reinharz, manager of the Neptune Theatre.

Serious was also the way projectionists had to treat the films they showed.

"Interesting thing about all those old theaters were those booths. When it was cellulose, the film was highly flammable. So those rooms were basically sealed when the movie started, and they were sealed until the movie ended."

The theater went through many renovations over the years. Some of the work, like the stained glass-looking murals, is still on full display.

"It's actually stained plastic, which as it turns out is rarer than stained glass and pretty hard to come by."

Credit: KING 5 Evening
The glass-like murals in the auditorium are actually stained plastic, which is rarer

The Neptune played countless movies over the decades, but none more than the cult classic "Rocky Horror Picture Show", which set a Seattle record for playing the movie every week for 14 years.

"Rarely a week of shows go by without a patron coming in and saying, do you guys still do the Rocky Horror?" said Reinharz.

When the theater looked like it was about to take its final curtain, the Seattle Theatre Group took over the space and saved the Neptune from being sunk in 2011.

"We wanted this place to be an amazing space for people to come and enjoy live entertainment," said Angela Neubauer with STG.

After a 7-month renovation, the Neptune had its second grand opening, this time as the city's newest live venue.

"Our goal is to make this the people's theater where all are welcomed and representative and that's our vision for this beautiful and historic theater," said Neubauer.

It may have opened a century ago, but the Neptune Theatre’s best days are still to come.

"This is a building that still has value in this community and the community does really want this to be a success still."

The Neptune Theatre is throwing a big 100th anniversary party on Tuesday, Nov. 16. The same date they opened on in 1921. You can reserve a place at the party here.

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