compiled by Columbian staff in 1989

John Kiggins

John Kiggins built and owned theaters in the golden days of the downtown cinemas. He was active during the transition from silent films to "talkies," and his name still is in use on the last of the downtown theaters.

Politics was Kiggins' other pursuit. He served nine times as Vancouver mayor, two terms as a Clark County commissioner, and was first chairman of the county's planning commission.

Kiggins was born in Tennessee, and lived as a youth in Washington, D.C. He learned the building and construction business before moving to Vancouver.

After serving in the 14th Infantry Regiment about the time of the Spanish-American War, Kiggins spent a short time in Alaska. Then he returned to Vancouver and opened a contracting, tinsmith and plumbing business.

He was active in constructing new brick buildings as the commercial district was extended gradually north on Main Street. At one time he owned the U.S.A., Liberty and American theaters.

In 1927 Kiggins built the Castle Theater, which was torn down in the 1960s. His last theater was the Kiggins, opened in 1936 when movies were a big escape from the troubles of the Depression.

Kiggins started his political activity on the City Council and served his first term as mayor beginning in 1909. He was identified with numerous civic improvement projects, while continuing as mayor at various times through 1938. He died in 1941.

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