Pomeroy Washington Downtown National Historic District

Historic District Downtown Building Inventory

Knettle Grand Theatre, Pomeroy Washington seen in 2021

The Knettle Grand Theatre Building, Summer, 2021

Knettle Grand Theatre (Site ID 28)

The Knettle Grand Theatre is a one-story brick building with a raised front parapet and stepped side parapet. The front elevation is embellished with dog-tooth bricks in the front parapet, and a central wooden folding garage door composed of vertical board panels on the lower portion and two light windows on the upper section (original ticket booth area). The door is flanked by large tripartite wood sash windows with wood panel bulkheads. The original transoms have been covered. Raised pilaster separate the bays on the west side, and a concrete foundation supports the building. The rear elevation facing the alley has six-over-six double-hung wood sash windows, freight and pedestrian doors, and a raised basement level. A ghost sign on the west elevation reads, "Caterpillar Tractor Combines Farm and Road Machinery," and also reads "Grande Theatre." The lot west of the building is vacant.

Nelson D. Knettle constructed The Knettle Grand Theatre circa 1905. Nancy Ann and Nelson Knettle were pioneers of Garfield County, settling on a land claim in 1877. They moved to Pomeroy in 1889 where Knettle became active in developing the town. He established one of the first theatres, owned the Knettle Bank for years, and was an agent for the Pacific Coast Elevator Company. He died in October 1926 and his wife died in 1929. The Knettle Grand Theatre advertised itself as offering "attractions at all times and will make a special effort to provide the best features of entertainment of the pioneers on the occasion of their annual picnic. We make a specialty of showing good pictures that will instruct and entertain (East Washingtonian, 1914)." In 1913 after Fred Norris retired, management of the theatre was turned over to Lee Matlock. According to the Sanbom Fire Insurance Map, the 40'x100' theatre was vacant in 1922. By 1930, the current 40'x120' structure housed a machine shop, workshop, and John Deere Caterpillar-Tractor owned by Roy Williams. Other businesses in the building included the Nez Perce Tractor Company owned by Cecil Slaybaugh, and Bartlow Harvester-Machine Shop (Bartiow, Fanning, and Lewis).

According to the Historic District nomination, Ed Fruh occupied the building at the time of the nomination.

Description and Cultural Data based on
research by Donovan & Associates

Changes at two of Pomeroy's movie houses were covered on the pages of the September 13, 1913, E-W.

Lee Mattock Gets Knettle Grand

Fred Norris has retired from the management of tbe Knettle Grand and Lee Matlock takes charge and also continues "The Lyric," where pictures will be shown on Saturday afternoon and evening. Mr. Norris has secured a position with one of the picture producing companies.

At the Knettle Grand there will be a change of program every night except Monday. On Monday night there will be a review.

On August 22, 1957, the EW took us "Down Memory Lane" way back to 1913 and a potential visit to Pomeroy from a well-known American:

The Socialist local has decided to bring Eugene V. Debs to Pomeroy during his tour of the state next fall. He will speak at the Knettle Grand. Tickets will sell at 25 and 35 cents. Whether one agrees with Debs' political views or opposes them it must be admitted that he is a national figure to whom unusual interest attaches, and a platform speaker of great power. Grand will probably be packed to the doors on the occasion of Mr. Debs' visit.

A short article in a February, 1924, issue of the EW:

Plan New Implement House

D. C. McFall and H. L. Pearson have about closed a deal for the Knettle Grand building, in which they plan to carry a stock of John Deere implements, and probably install their work shop. The consideration is said to be $4,600. The building is owned by the Brown estate. The estate retains the chairs and heatiung equipoment. C. A. Thompson, late lessee, gets some of the fixtures and stage equipment.

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This Web site has been financed by Castlemoyle Books and Gifts for the Pomeroy Historic Preservation Committee.
The Committee gratefully acknowledges donations of time, photographs, scans, and other
assistance from the Garfield County Museum and individual citizens of Pomeroy and Garfield County.

The Pomeroy Historic Preservation Committee
66 South 7th Street
Pomeroy WA 99347


Copyright © 2002-2021 John R. Gordon