Sunday, December 22, 2019

Neptune Theatre

12/16/19 Neptune Theatre, U-District

The Neptune Theatre has been in the University District for nearly a century. On the corner of Northeast 45th and Brooklyn since it opened in 1921, it is “the only survivor of five neighborhood theaters built during the silent film era.” It was called the U-Neptune back then.

I’ve been wanting to sketch the Neptune for a long time, afraid that any day now it could disappear the way two of Seattle’s other historic theaters, the Guild 45th and Seven Gables, suddenly closed in 2017 (I managed to sketch them only after the sad news). But the Neptune still seems to be going strong, showing indie films and staging a variety of musical concerts. It’s been years since I saw a movie there, but I know the inside is beautiful with dramatic nautical scenes painted on the walls. They just don’t make movie theaters like they used to.

In 2018, the 70-year-old marquee was replaced with a historically accurate digital one. I’m not sure if that includes the mint green, illuminated Neptune name sign, which looks identical to the one I’ve seen for decades. You probably can’t see it in my sketch, but the final E has arrowheads like Neptune’s trident.

While I was in the U-District getting my car’s battery replaced, I looked around for a coffee shop with a good window I could sketch through on that 39-degree morning. The Poindexter inside the Graduate Hotel was perfect: A corner window kitty-corner to the Neptune.

Bonus thrill: the Poindexter’s counter. It’s covered with thousands of pencils!


  1. Theaters like that are so special so I am glad to hear that this one is a success. Hopefully it will continue to operate. The interior sounds charming and would probably make for some special sketches. For any urban sketcher that counter is the bomb!

    1. I know... right?? I couldn't believe I found a place covered with pencils!


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