1920sSnow

The brand new Princess Theatre, Winter 1920-1921, viewed from 7th Street, looking down Meade Avenue to 6th Street. Notice the original Spanish Mission style facade of the Princess, and the fact that the Green Room facade is nearly unchanged today. The Prosser Record-Bulletin was also an original neighbor, before they moved to their current location on 7th Street.

The Princess Theatre is a historic landmark for Prosser, Washington and the surrounding area. Built in 1919-20, it is one of a handful of historic theatres in Washington State that are still operating as performance venues.

After renting several locations in downtown Prosser, the Princess Theatre’s original owner, B.J. Pacius, hired Pearl Bros. Construction to build a permanent facility in the Spanish Mission style at the corner of Meade Avenue and 7th Street.  The Princess opened its doors in its current location on May 7, 1920. People came to Prosser from throughout the Yakima Valley to see moving pictures, boxing matches, Vaudeville shows and other forms of entertainment. Today, almost 100 years later, this historic theater is an affordable and accessible arts, events and conference center in the heart of downtown Prosser, offering a unique venue, experienced event management staff and expert technical assistance.

Downtown Prosser mid-1950s

Downtown Prosser, mid-1950s, looking up Meade Avenue from 6th Street to 7th Street. The Princess Theatre’s neon marquee is visible in the upper left corner.

In 1946, a fire at the Princess provided the reason to convert the interior to a fully modern “movie house,” complete with the Art Moderne-style neon marquee that still shines today. With the birth of the film industry, the Princess switched gears from a combination of movies and live stage performances to focus solely on motion pictures.

With the growing popularity of television, small town theater houses, including the Princess, began losing audiences. The Princess was still showing movies in the early 1970s, but a decade later the theatre closed.

In 1993 the Meridian Club of Prosser brainstormed the idea of reviving the theatre. Members formed the Princess Cultural Center (PCC), along with a committee that worked for a decade to raise money to buy and renovate the theatre.  After the United States Department of Agriculture provided a grant to help with renovation, the community pitched in and volunteers from many organizations helped begin the project. Unfortunately, structural problems with an adjacent building created expenses that the PCC could not meet and the building reverted to USDA ownership.

2010_Princess

The Princess Theatre in 2010, after several significant renovation efforts.

For a year and a half, the USDA listed the building for sale. In 2005, Mercer Canyons, Inc. bought the building and, under the guidance of Julie Mercer, completed the theatre’s renovation as a performing arts center.

Prosser’s Princess Theatre reopened on Valentine’s Day 2007 to a full house, presenting Valley Theater Company’s production of A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters.

In February 2013, the not-for-profit Valley Theater Company (VTC) purchased the Princess Theatre and adjoining Green Room from Mercer Canyons, Inc. More than 200 donations, a matching gift from the Edgar E. Whitehead Foundation and the generosity of Mercer Canyons, Inc. enabled this purchase.

Whether you want to attend live stage plays, movies, ballet recitals and jazz festivals; or host school graduations, business meetings, fundraisers, weddings, anniversaries and winemaker’s events, we invite you to join us at the Princess Theatre, the “center of Prosser” and a treasure for the entire Yakima Valley.