Portland Public Auditorium before remodeling, 1933, Org. Lot 23, bb003264. The building occupies an entire city block bounded by Third and Second Avenues and Clay and Market Streets.

Photo by Jason Quigley.


he Keller Auditorium, one of the Portland’5 Centers for the Performing Arts, has experienced a near-complete metamorphosis and several name changes since it opened in 1917 as Portland Public Auditorium. Also called Municipal Auditorium, it served as a meeting center, a movie house, a boxing venue, a hospital and morgue during the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, and a temporary home for returning WWII veterans. A near-complete renovation completed in 1968 left only 17 percent of the original structure intact, with some of the exterior materials recycled at the Portland Japanese Garden and the Community Music Center. The new venue, named Civic Auditorium, was further remodeled in 2000 and renamed Keller Auditorium after Portland Development Commission Chairman Ira Keller, thanks to a large donation from his family. The theater is now home to Oregon Ballet Theatre and hosts many performances by the Portland Opera, among other performing arts, community, and family events.


Historic photographs for this series are provided by the Oregon Historical Society, a museum, research library, archive, and scholarly asset located in the heart of Portland’s Cultural District. View more photos of historic Portland on the new OHS Digital Collections website here.

Have an anecdote or old school photograph of you posing in front of the building? Post it! Don’t forget to tag #Artslandia and #ThenAndNow.