Kiggins: The history of John P. Kiggins and his theatre

Exterior of Kiggins Theatre, 1941

 Clark County Historical Museum will continue its 2019 First Thursday Speaker Series on Thursday, April 4, with historian Andrew Gregg’s presentation of “Kiggins: The history of John P. Kiggins and his theatre.” This talk will highlight the life of Vancouver’s former mayor and his monumental impact on Clark County. Doors open at 5 p.m., and the event begins at 7 p.m.

Initially assigned to serve at the Vancouver Barracks at the turn of the nineteenth century, a 31-year-old Sergeant Kiggins vowed to transform Vancouver from a sleepy crossroads town to a thriving city. Within a few years of his arrival, Kiggins launched a political campaign that resulted in his first of many terms as Vancouver’s mayor.

Kiggins also established a successful construction company, and built several commercial buildings and theaters along Vancouver’s Main Street. The historic Kiggins Theatre, of course, is the landmark for which the mayor is best remembered.

“Vancouverites of a certain age nostalgically recall that theatre 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 a place that 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. And, it is to J.P. Kiggins we owe the debt of enjoying his vision for Vancouver more than a century later.”

Andrew Gregg is a Vancouver native who saw his first big-screen movie at the Kiggins Theatre in 1961. After a K-12 education in Vancouver Public Schools, Gregg graduated from Willamette University, attended Gonzaga University School of Law, and completed a master’s degree in public history at Washington State University. A National Board Certified teacher, Gregg has served as Clark County Arts Commission’s chairman, and is currently a Clark County Historic Preservation Commissioner. Since 1973, Gregg has written extensively about his hometown.

The CCHM First Thursday Speaker Series is sponsored by the Clark County Historic Preservation Commission. General admission is $5; seniors and students are $4; children under 18 are $3; and the evening is free with a CCHM membership. Attendees are encouraged to arrive early, as it is first-come, first-served seating.

For more information, contact the museum at 360-993-5679 or by email at

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