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Two Lincoln City Places with a Past: An Oregon Coast Theater and a Trippy Bar

Published 08/27/2018 at 12:07 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

Two Lincoln City Places with a Past: An Oregon Coast Theater and a Trippy Bar

(Lincoln City, Oregon) – There's a lot of history crammed into one tiny central Oregon coast town. Lincoln City has had much going on in the 140 or so years since settlers first began settlin’, not the least of which was deciding on its name and a rather painful official start in 1964. (Historical photos courtesy North Lincoln County Historical Museum).

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The North Lincoln County Historical Museum in Lincoln City has been pretty darned cool about digging up the good stuff on the little big town’s past. One of its two renowned hotspots still exists, while the other now resides in a hazy past that’s part distinguished, part disturbing.

Most of the town’s neighborhoods’ names come from the little burghs that eventually formed into one Lincoln City: places like Cutler City, Taft, DeLake and so on. But one moniker that simply came from modern times is that of Midtown, which is primarily the DeLake area.

Midtown is that area from about NW 19th down close to about NW 10th or so, which includes a whole host of businesses both historic and recent. Everything from books, ice cream, taffy, gourmet food, clothing to wacky dive bars for the nocturnally adventurous sit along here.

One of the standouts is the Bijou Theater (above).

Originally called the Lakeside Theater, it opened on June 3, 1937, according to the North Lincoln County Historical Museum. On the marquee that opening day was the movie Personal Property, starring Jean Harlow.

“The theater had 270 seats and movies were 35 cents for adults and 10 cents for kids,” the museum writes. “The ownership changed several times and some of the Art Deco details were covered with a particle board facade. In the 1980's the theater was renamed The Bijou (French for ‘Jewel’) and was remodeled to have more seating and transformed back to its Art Deco roots. In 1996, the current owners, Keith and Betsy Altomare, bought the Bijou and have made great improvements to the theater’s signage/marquee. Thanks to the hard work of the owners and theater goers alike, The Bijou Theater is still going strong today.”

The Altomares ran into trouble around 2012 with the coming of the digital age. All new movies were moving to a digital-only format then, and that meant converting to expensive digital technology or showing only old movies thereafter. A grass roots campaign was started to fund the new machinery, and that eventually saved the day.

The theater now hosts older movies on weekend morning matinees for quite an inexpensive cover charge.

The Oregon coast is known for its wacky dive bars, and one in Lincoln City really took the cake a decade ago or so. But almost 100 years ago, this place was the bomb, so to speak.

These days, there’s only a parking lot there in Taft, though you’ll still see a sign declaring The Pines Restaurant and Lounge. Almost directly across the street from the bar called Snug Harbor, you’ll see only concrete. Yet a decade ago there was a wild ‘n crazy bar called The Pines, and before that a famed hotel.

According to the North Lincoln County Historical Museum, The Pines Hotel was originally built in 1927 by Fred Watson for what was then gobs of money: $20,000. It was the first upscale resort hotel for Taft, hosting a ballroom, a restaurant, and it was a popular place for locals to play cards and gamble.

About a block or two to the north, there was a peewee golf course and hamburger stand.

The hotel burned down in 1976, however. It was rebuilt, but by the late ‘90s had fallen into a state of disrepair, and by the early 2000’s the bar known as The Pines Restaurant and Bar was the primary biz there. The eatery portion had a decent enough reputation, though it was greasy spoon fare for its last decade or so. Breakfasts were certainly hearty and copious.

The boozy side of the operation was a bizarre dive bar by any stretch of the imagination, and it was on the rough side. Even Portland connoisseurs of wacky dive bars were a bit scared by it. The place seemed an endless parade of strange and hilarious moments taking place one after another. It wasn’t uncommon to see one or two elderly patrons passed out at any one time, and while most locals were the awesome and quirky friendly-types that Taft is known for, this goofy locale had a few bad apples here and there. (Above: where The Pines stood, photo courtesy Google Earth).

Still, the place provided plenty of memories for the adventurous.

However, it too burned down in 2008, leaving only that empty lot. The remaining sign may be confusing to those who have no clue what it was – or certainly what they missed – but it’s a pleasant reminder of recent history to those who were there. Lodgings in Lincoln City - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours

 

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