Scope and Content
Title: Swain Marysville & San Francisco Theatre Collection,
Date (inclusive): 1857-1928
Collection number: Mss88
W.B. & Margaret Swain
Extent: 0.5 linear ft.
University of the Pacific. Library. Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections
Shelf location: For current information on the location of these
materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
Collection is open for research.
[Identification of item], Swain Marysville & San Francisco Theatre Collection, Mss88,
Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library
The Swain Family operated a planing mill, a theatre and a bank in Marysville throughout
the second half of the nineteenth century. Their Marysville Theatre, erected in 1865, was
designed by Harry Majors and built by W.C. Swain for $30,000. The flood of 1875 damaged
the building and it was use for a time as a dance hall. Swain remodelled it in 1886,
introducing sloping floors and other improvements. W.B. Swain, son of the builder, was
interested both in acting and in theatre management. His father began leasing the
building to him in 1889 and the latter operated it until it burnt down, together with the
family mill, in 1904.
Theatre in Marysville enjoyed a particularly vigorous life between 1886 and 1910 due to
an accident of geography. Trains from San Francisco bound for Portland, Oregon arrived in
Marysville at five p.m. The train did not leave for Portland until midnight and many
Portland-bound troupes found it a simple matter to mount an evening performance in
Marysville while on their way north. It would have been impossible for them to have done
this in Sacramento because they could not have made their Portland connection on the same
In 1908, Frank Atkins built a new theatre on the site of the Swain planing mill. This
theatre, also known as the Marysville Theatre, burned in 1926.
Scope and Content
The scrapbook which forms the chief element of these papers was created by W.B. Swain. It
contains theater programs, reviews and Swain's notes about attendance and the
performances at Marysville between 1886 and 1908. One of the Swains also collected a
smaller number of San Francisco theatrical programs and newspapers dating from the same