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Clyde Theatre

2001 Photo from the Dave Felthous collection.
213 First St
Langley WA 98260
(360) 221-5525

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Record #2516  
 Opened: September 16, 1937
Capacity: 256 seats
Architectural Style(s): Art Deco
National Register:
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As:

Information for this tour was contributed by Lynn Murray Willeford.

The Clyde Theatre was founded by Norman and Hazel Clyde in 1937 and was purchased by Blake Willeford in 1972 when he returned from a stint in the Peace Corps. Blake and his wife Lynn (who started as a ticketseller) have owned and operated the theater ever since.

The Clyde opened to great hoopla in September 1937, when admission of 25 cents got you in to see a popular Don Ameche film. (We found the first reel of that film and played it at our 50th anniversary party for The Clyde, where we were all surprised to hear that the final line of the reel was, "Just call me Mr. Blake.").

The Clyde wasn't one of those fancy movie palaces, but a fairly simple place in keeping with Depression belt-tightening. We've maintained the Art Deco look to the place, while freshening the colors. We are the kind of neighborhood movie house everyone over 40 remembers from their youth. Visitors used to say The Clyde was "cute", then they'd say that it was "quaint," now they say it's "authentic." We're still the same funky place we've always been, despite the Dolby Digital Sound and other improvements. The Clyde originally had 250 seats. Blake removed some front rows to build a theatrical stage in the mid-70s, reducing the seating to 231. New seats with cupholder armrests were recently installed, bringing the seat count back up to 256. The Clyde was the performance center of South Whidbey Island for twenty years until the community was finally able to build a performing arts center and we could focus on just showing movies. The local children's theater group still puts on its plays here at weekend matinees five or six times a year, so many children have grown up performing at The Clyde.

The Clyde is open 7 nights a week for about 9 shows a week. We are a calendar house putting out a printed schedule livened up with local art every six weeks; this schedule can be found on every refrigerator in South Whidbey. We show mainstream movies, as well as "art films," generally showing one of each every week (check out our schedule on our website). Even though we have just one screen, over the course of a month our patrons have a chance to see 7-8 movies. Our admission prices are low ($5 adults, $3 kids and seniors), and our snack bar prices are lower ($2.50 will get you a small popcorn, a small Coke, and a roll of chewy Sprees). Our commitment is to keep movie-going fun and affordable.

We are fortunate that Hazel Clyde, now an active 90-something, passed some of her memorabilia over to us from The Clyde's early days, including a voided check to Disney for twelve dollars and change for rental of "Snow White" the first month The Clyde was open. We have saved 40x60 and 30x40 posters and one-sheets for 25 years -- maybe they'll help pay for our own retirement.

 Photos remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.

September 2013 photos from the Lynn Willeford collection.

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2001 photos from the Dave Felthous collection.

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Photos from the Robbie Cribbs collection.

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Last featured 7/23/2002. Last edited 6/3/2007.

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