Saturday, December 5, 2020
Dec. 5, 2020

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Kiggins – the man, his movie theater – focus of history talk

Nine-term Vancouver mayor played key role in city’s development

By , Columbian Arts & Features Reporter
Published:
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Tonight’s upcoming First Thursday lecture at the Clark County Historical Museum is all about the historic spot down the street and the man who built it: the Kiggins Theatre and nine-term Vancouver Mayor J.P. Kiggins.
Tonight’s upcoming First Thursday lecture at the Clark County Historical Museum is all about the historic spot down the street and the man who built it: the Kiggins Theatre and nine-term Vancouver Mayor J.P. Kiggins. Clark County Historical Museum archives Photo Gallery

Andrew Gregg, who saw his first big-screen film at the Kiggins Theatre in 1961, knows he’s one of many local folks who feel undying love for downtown Vancouver’s historic movie palace.

“Vancouverites of a certain age nostalgically recall that theater as a venue for life events that remain special memories,” Gregg said. “Whether it was a first movie, first date, or first kiss, the Kiggins Theatre is … inextricably bound to our sense of place, our respect for history, and that feeling that our human journey is defined by experiences that might be shared with complete strangers in a darkened movie house.”

Therefore, Gregg said, we all owe a debt of enjoyment to J.P. Kiggins, who arrived here as a humble Army sergeant in the late 1800s and grew into a leading businessman, builder and nine-term mayor — a defining visionary of the city Vancouver would become.

Tonight, Gregg will highlight Kiggins’ life and monumental local impact in a talk called “Kiggins: The history of John P. Kiggins and his theater.” It’s the latest in the Clark County Historical Museum’s First Thursday Speaker Series.

Don’t get confused about the location: Gregg’s talk is not at the Kiggins, but up the street at the Clark County Historical Museum, 1511 Main St. Doors open at 5 p.m. and Gregg speaks at 7 p.m. Admission is $5; seniors and students are $4. Visit www.cchmuseum.org/ for more information, or call 360-993-5679.

Gregg, who grew up in Vancouver, is a local historian with a master’s degree in public history from Washington State University. He currently serves on the Clark County Historic Preservation Commission.

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