Portland, Oregon has long been known as a patron of the arts; whether that art is visual, musical, architectural, or literary, if its art, Portland has it. Growing up here, I had the privilege to attend a lot of musical events and, while there are plenty of all ages venues, dive bars and arenas, few of them have the storied history of the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in downtown, Portland.
Part of the Portland Performing Arts Center, the venue was constructed in 1928 and given landmark status by the city of Portland in 1972, the Schnitz (as locals are prone to calling it) is the lone survivor of the original plethora of theaters on Broadway—one of the main thoroughfares through downtown. Over the years, the Schnitz has featured acts as diverse as Vincent Price, Louis Armstrong, Toad the West Sprocket, Prince, Hootie and the Blowfish, Eugene Paulette, Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan.
The Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall began life in 1928 as the Portland Public Theater and become the Paramount Theatre in 1930. Rapp and Rapp (the architectural firm famous for their theater buildings) designed the Schnitz in the Italian Renaissance-style. When the Paramount opened its doors, it was regarded as “[T]he most lavish and theater for a city the size of Portland.” The Paramount began life as a Vaudeville Theatre and showed films until 1972—at which time it was transformed into a concert venue.
Features of the theatre include huge French-paned windows at the main entrance of the auditorium, expensive carpets, furnishings purchased and shipped over from France, private collections, and expensive, ornate carpet in the foyer. The lobby was once lit by expensive chandeliers and while the chandeliers still reside throughout the venue (the largest being nearly eight feet long) traditional, electrical lighting is now used. Numerous entrances and staircases add to the mystique and beauty of the building.
Everything about the Schnitz proclaims elegance, class, and sophistication and mere words do not do it justice: The Schnitz must be experienced to be understood and appreciated. In addition to many fine touring musicians, the venue also houses the Portland Youth Philharmonic, the Oregon Symphony and the Metropolitan Youth Symphony. And, when the lights come up and the show ends—you don’t need to go home. The Heathman Hotel is attached to the venue. A night at the Schnitz never has to end. Come and experience the glamour, the elegance, and the history at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, located at 1037 SW Broadway in downtown Portland, Oregon.