Seattle architect Bjarne Holten Moe was born in Trondheim, Norway on November 4, 1904. He immigrated to the United States with his family at the young age of 5 and was raised in Tacoma and Everett, graduating from Everett High School.
Moe studied at the University of Washington during the mid 1920s for three years but never received a formal degree. Instead he gained practical experience working for a variety of architects for over a seven-year period including Ludwig Solberg in Wenatchee, and for several architects in Seattle including: Sherwood Ford, J. Charles Stanley, R.C. Reamer and the firm of Shack, Young & Meyers. He acquired is state architectural license in 1930 (No. L126)
Some histories show that Moe worked for builder/designer Fred Anhalt, although this has not been verified. According to Polk Directories he opened his own practice in 1932. That year Moe presented options on how to modernize your home with brick facing in the Seattle Times.
Moe specialized in movie theaters and designed several across the Pacific Northwest. In the Seattle area projects included the Green Lake Theater (1937); Lake City Theater (c1939); Renton Theater (1939); Varsity Theater (1940); Coy’s Highline Theater (1947) in Highline; Crest Theater (1949) in Shoreline; and alterations to the Rainier Theater (1945).
Outside of the city projects included the Roxy Theater (1941) in Bremerton; the Ritz Theater (1937) in Ritzville; the Liberty Theaters in Ellensburg (1937) and Dayton (1938); a remodel of the Capitol Theater (1938) in Walla Walla; the Empire Theater (1940) in Tekoa; a theater in South Bend (1945, unbuilt); the Bungalo Theater (1939) in St. Maries, ID; the New Liberty Theater (1947) in Lynden; and a remodel of the Roman Theater (1935) in Red Lodge, Montana.
His last theater project was most likely the remodeling of the Ridgemont Theater (1967), which included the installation of a 40’ high basket-weave metal façade. Moe was reportedly a member of the Movie Theater Remodeling Institute and some reports indicate he designed auditorium seating for the B.F. Shearer Co. in Seattle; a division of the National Theater Supply Company, manufacturers of theatrical equipment.
While Moe certainly designed other types of structures, his non-theater designs are limited to the French Electric style Robin Welts House in Mount Vernon (1934); a market building for John Wilson in the Green Lake Neighborhood (1937); the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church (1940) in Seattle and a remodel of the Richmond Hotel Coffee Shop (1940).
Moe passed away in Seattle on April 29, 1980 at the age of 75.
By Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian - March 2013
A State Architectural License Application – December 11, 1930
“Modernizing of Homes Becomes Work of Merit” Seattle Daily Times – April 11, 1932. pg 9.
“$100,000 Cost of Undertaking” Seattle Daily Times – January 10, 1937.
“Building Aids at Green Lake” Seattle Daily Times – Feb 21, 1937.
“Artist’s Drawing of New $30,000 Theater at Ritzville” Spokesman Review– April 8, 1937.
“New Green Lake Theatre Will Announce Opening Date Soon” Seattle Daily Times – July 25, 1937, pg. 33.
“Four New Theaters” The Architect & Engineer – September 1937.
“Junior Mercy, Jack Flannery and Bjarne Moe to Walla Walla…..” Seattle Daily Times – November 30, 1938.
“Bjarne Moe drawing plans for a new….” Seattle Daily Times – December 27, 1938.
“Bjarne Moe back from Walla Walla…” Seattle Daily Times – January 27, 1939.
“Bjarne Moe home from Eastern Washington….” Seattle Daily Times – July 31, 1939.
"Irvin Fey and Bjarne Moe drawing plans for a new theater in Renton…..” Seattle Daily Times – November 16, 1939.
“Seattle Norwegians In Fete Tomorrow” Seattle Daily Times – November 17, 1939.
“Tekoa To Have $40,000 Theater” The Spokesman Review – April 8, 1940.
“Bjarne Moe has returned from five days in Tekoa…” Seattle Daily Times – April 11, 1940.
“New Richmond Hotel Opens Coffee Shop” Seattle Daily Times – June 27, 1940.
“Work Begins on ‘Movie’ Theatre” Seattle Daily Times – July 19, 1940. pg. 3.
“Bjarne Moe is drawing plans for new theater to be built in South Bend…” Seattle Daily Times – May 31, 1945.
“Along Film Row – Harry Newman of the Liberty Theater in Lynden…” Seattle Daily Times – January 30, 1946.
“Remodeling of Theater” Seattle Daily Times – August 20, 1967.
“A Touch of France: This Mount Vernon House Bridges Traditional and Modernistic Design” Seattle Daily Times – September 1, 1996.
“Glacier High School is long gone, but grads will never forget” The Highline Times – November 3, 2012.