By Tom Henderson • Staff Writer • 

Mack Theater subject of big plans

Only online subscribers may access this article.

One-day subscriptions available for just $2. Click here for one-day access.

For all other subscription offers, click here.

Already a subscriber, please .



Cabaret with holograms... I just can’t even. The investment opportunity of a life time he said. We’ll be just like New York he said. Dinner and a show he said. Stacks of cash he said. Good luck you all, cause you’re going to need it.

By the way there easier ways to watch your money burn. They’re called flame throwers.

David Bates

Because what small Pacific Northwest town doesn't have an urgent need (and market demand) to turn a historic movie theater into a 1930s-style New York supper club?


This sounds cool!


I'd love to see SOMETHING done with that building, it will be interesting to see if anyone has a pile of cash they want to burn on this particular vision though. Stay tuned.


Well, who doesn't have a measly $600,000 burning a hole in his pocket? Based on Millegan's previous dealings and behavior, who could want to hitch a wagon to his star?


Let me see if I get this right. J.W. Millegan is the same person who folded his investment business and filed for bankruptcy. He is the co-founder of a hedge fund and his sons are the principals for this entrepreneurial company. Yet J.W. Millegan controls the assets of this company. And they’re looking for investors willing to pony up $600,000 each?! I’m with you Lulu, who would want to jump in that boat? Hey! I’ve got some swampland in Florida…


I wouldn’t invest in this venture, even if I had the means. But I appreciate people who can think outside the box and take risks of this magnitude. Visionaries are rarely appreciated in their own times, especially in their hometowns. If they manage to make a go of this, I wish them all the success they imagine.


I believe "visionaries" may be the wrong word.

David Bates

It's difficult not to regard this as a missed opportunity. Oregon has a lot of historic theaters that have been restored and continue to operate as theaters ... Corvallis has the Majestic, Silverton has the Palace, Stayton has Star Cinemas, even Baker City has the Eltrym. It's a long list. And there are enough models for non-profit operation that it wouldn't have been necessary to reinvent the wheel if you went that route. And nearly 50 vacation rentals? How about studio space for low-income artists? Or at least split the difference? Instead, a high-end conference center with cabaret and holograms. Even if it looks slick and makes money for investors, I don't see how it benefits people who live and work in the community in a meaningful way. Just my two cents.


David, while I agree with you, on its face, I would be hard pressed to find many examples of business investment decisions that were based largely on “ how it benefits people who live and work in the community in a meaningful way.” While virtually all business investments do (to some extent) benefit the local community, that is rarely a significant factor in the siting decision. Some communities become so dependent on a single source economic energy, that they live or die on its success. This is not anticipated as an act of philanthropy, so I am a little surprised at the blowback. It may work, or it may not. As long as no public money is at stake, we may instead ask, what is the lost opportunity cost?

David Bates

Sponge, it well may be that market research shows there's a need for a high-end conference center in McMinnville. But even if that's the case, I just don't think such a facility belongs in a historic movie theater in the middle of an already crowded downtown where locals circle endlessly to find parking so they can shop or have a meal.


This would be a waste of McMinnville History to do this. A cocktail room???? Are you kidding me????!!!!


So many "High End" eateries coming to town. What about the average Yamhill County consumer? Not everyone here receives "High End" paychecks. Why are developers catering so much to the rich. Why not cater to those who are the average consumer, those who have lived here most of their lives? Those who work hard for their money?


Good Luck with this! Recent Supper club in local town with good intentions closed shop. Investors beware and do research on who you are dealing with! Dig deep


The entire cabaret concept is terribly outdated. But I have an idea--how about a movie theater?? Like the Cameo in Newberg, where people don't feel like sardines stuffed in a can. A place catering to adults. Decent movies. Some foreign films. Maybe Movietone news for an interesting view of the past. Why not?

David Bates

Perhaps it's wishful thinking, but I suspect with good management and marketing, it could literally be a destination movie theater in the Willamette Valley. If I'm within an hour's drive and the Mack is showing Apocalypse Now, (which it did) or The Wild Bunch, E.T., Bladerunner, To Kill a Mockingbird or any number of classics *and I know about it*, I'd go. They showed North by Northwest there and the line went around the corner and down the street. There's an opportunity there. Honestly, if we all got a vote, you think movies or "high-end" cabaret would win?


Okay, I am feeling my age. I think a revamped theater would be a great idea! And, let’s make it truly classic. Some of us remember the curtains opening and the short , the cartoon and the previews projected on the screen before the curtains closed. And then as the main feature began the curtains would open again. A theater would serve us townies as well as the tourists. At the concession stand: real popcorn with real butter and things like Junior Mints, Milk Duds and Dots. McMinnville had, at one time, three (I believe) downtown theaters. Third Street has been called one of the best main streets in America! A “real” theater would add to its charm. And, as long as money is no problem, how about a skybridge connecting it to Hotel Oregon? The strange thing about these ideas is that I am a reasonably sane person.


Historic preservation should not be confused with codes and ordinances intended to preserve neighborhood character or limit intensity of development. Our downtown district has separate ordinances that address those concerns, limiting uses, materials, and intensity of development.

History is cultural. Culture, as it is lived and experienced in real time changes. Uses change. Some of our historic downtown Third Street buildings once housed horse stables. Others housed indentured workers in near slave-like conditions. Neither use would be considered beneficial for preservation purposes today, historically or otherwise. But the history of those past uses is often very worthy of preservation. So historic preservation seeks to preserve the physical characteristics of a building, place, or artifact as a way of marking and reminding us of that past.

Bill B

@Treehouse; Huh?


Bill B,
The promoter of the proposed project, Mr. Milligan, and the author of this article make great mention of various proposed uses for the building. There is much speculation in the comments here about the proposed uses for the building. Tom Henderson then mentions that the project would be subject to review by the City's Historic Landmarks Committee. Proposed land use, and historic preservation are not related. The past, current, or future use of a site, building, or artifact is limited by zoning. Historic preservation generally relates exclusively to the physical artifact, not its use.

It is very important if readers and citizens have input to the decision making processes that they understand these distinctions which the author of the article and perhaps some of the parties involved are not making clear.


Could you attempt to be less nebulous?

Web Design and Web Development by Buildable