Thanks to the hard work of Team Totem, and the support of the community, the long-lost locally-produced film Eyes of the Totem has been returned to Tacoma and will be seen again on September 18th for the first time in almost ninety years. The film will re-premiere at Tacoma’s Rialto theatre, which was built in 1918. While the film was originally shown to the public at a different theatre, it was shown to the producers at the Rialto. In the spirit of the historic film, Court C will be transformed back to the 1920’s with classic cars of the era provided by local vintage car clubs, while the Knights of Pythias will be opening up Tacoma’s historic Pythian Temple as a speakeasy for the evening. True to speakeasy form, a password will be required to enter. Be sure to visit www.eyesofthetotem.com to access the password. Guests are encouraged to arrive in costume, if you need costume inspiration, visit Northwest Costume on 6th Ave., which is offering special rates for this event.
While Tacoma has changed greatly over the past 90 years, many of the buildings shown in the film are still part of Tacoma’s architectural character today. Below is a still from the film, provided by Team Totem, shown next to a photo taken at the same location earlier this week. The photos show the Old City Hall Historic District, with Old City Hall, Northern Pacific Building and the Olympus Hotel, now Hotel Olympus Apartments, all prominently displayed.
The photo was captured from in front of the Provident Building. Over the past century many businesses have called the Provident Building home including Ghilarducci’s California florists, Vaugh and Merril Co.. Stationers, and Laughlen’s Cafe. The name of the Provident building was changed to the “Security Building” in 1952. It remained the Security Building for 54 years, before its original name was restored in 2006 after being purchased by LinMar Management. The building looks very different today than it did during the time of production mostly due to the multiple renovations of storefronts over the years. Nevertheless, the 113 year old building still plays a vibrant part of the city’s culture. Today it houses the Tacoma Historical Society.
Tacoma remains an active city for the arts and inspiration for filmmakers. Filmmaker and Team Totem member John Carlton is in the process of writing a feature length screenplay set in 1951 Tacoma. Carlton originally became involved with Team Totem while doing research for that screenplay, which also features now lost Tacoma architectural icons, like the Asarco Smelter and Top of the Ocean restaurant. Another Team Totem member, Mick Flaan is currently making a documentary on the return of (the film) Eyes of the Totem.