The Mission Theater (1624 NW Glisan St., Portland) has a long and storied past, from churchgoers to longshoremen, from actors to beer-drinking film buffs.
Built in 1912 (and today listed on the National Register of Historic Places) as the Swedish Evangelical Mission Covenant Church of Portland, it served the faith-based community in this building for 42 years.
Bring in the dockworkers! - that's right, dockworkers. From pious church-going beginnings to serving the burly, blue-collar, longshoremen of the waterfront in one fell swoop. It must have been quite the 180-degree change. Those fellas stuck around for 28 years and then sailed on.
After a four- or five-year stint as a storage warehouse, the Mission building became home to a local acting troupe in 1986 or '87, called Heart Theater. Sadly, their efforts lasted just about a year.
Enter McMenamins, Stage Left.
In June 1987, the Mission Theater became the first full-time theater-pub in Oregon, perhaps on the west coast. Spots like Austin, TX's well-known Alamo Drafthouse credit the McMenamins theater-pub model as an inspiration.
However, we know of at least one establishment (the Bethesda Cinema 'n' Drafthouse in Maryland) that opened prior to the Mission, in 1983, so we cannot claim credit for originating the concept of drinking beer while watching films on the big screen.
Once again, the mission of the Mission is evolving! Thus, please come into the auditorium - single file, take your seats, no throwing popcorn or passing notes allowed, but go ahead and have a beer or two....
[curtains open slowly...]
It's Time for "The Assembly"
After a 26-year run, the Mission is dropping its second-run movies, stepping up its food and beverage offerings, and - best of all -evolving the theater's programming.
Called "The Assembly," the theater's new programming now features film screenings with related lectures, interviews, and performances that bring cinema to life. The Assembly's primary mission - engaging audiences with events that are both enriching and entertaining - has few boundaries.
So gather with friends and family for The Assembly. There's a lot of world out there, and why not discover it with a beer in hand?