Motion Picture Exhibition in Washington, D.C.

An Illustrated History of Parlors, Palaces and Multiplexes in the Metropolitan Area, 1894–1997


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About the Book

From inauspicious beginnings in the kinetoscope parlors and nickelodeons to the movie palaces of the golden era, and finally to the pared down multiplexes of today, this is the history of motion picture viewing in the nation’s capital and vicinity. The research is supported by numerous interviews.
The book includes a 200-page listing of all the movie theaters in the area past and present, with data such as location, dates of operation, architect, and seating capacity, as well as a summary of each theater’s history and current status. Maps, drawings and photographs (most of which have never before been published) round out this comprehensive study.

About the Author(s)

Retired linguist Robert K. Headley lectures on theatre history, and consults on documentaries and theatre restoration. He lives in University Park, Maryland.

Bibliographic Details

Robert K. Headley
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 408
Bibliographic Info: 99 photos, maps, diagrams, index
Copyright Date: 2006 [1999]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2842-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0851-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Preface      1

1. The Columbia Phonograph Company (1894–1905)      3

2. The Nickelodeon Era (1906–1912)      17

3. The First Palaces (1913–1916)      53

4. The Move to F Street (1917–1923)      74

5. The Movie Palace Years (1924–1927)      103

6. After the Fox (1928–1934)      125

7. Theaters Near You (1935–1944)      138

8. The Move to the Suburbs (1945–1952)      168

9. The Dark Years (1953–1961)      180

10. Renaissance (1962–1965)      193

11. Shoeboxes and Twins (1966–1981)      200

12. Multiplexes (1982–Present)      216


1. Washington Area Theaters by Name      223

2. Washington Area Theaters by Street Address      344

3. Architects of Washington Area Theaters      355

4. Theater Architecture      359

5. Theater Personnel      363

Notes      369

Bibliography      379

Index      383

Book Reviews & Awards

Finalist, Theatre Library Association Award
“definitive…details interesting, broad aspects of film and theater history…adds cultural commentary on evolving moviegoing trends”—Choice; “an admirable work”—C&RL News; “definitive”—Communication Booknotes Quarterly; “cover[s] more than 100 years of film exhibition…an important story well told…compelling…detailed…appendix includes a wealth of information and constitutes a book within a book…richly illustrated…carefully researched and written”—H-Net Reviews; “if you want to learn a lot more about the 400-plus movie theaters in the Washington area and the business of showing movies here, seek out this book…fascinating new information”—Washington History; “information on everything. Headley has found a surprisingly rich assortment showing theaters in all their interior and exterior beauty…captures the excitement and the exuberance of all that has been motion picture exhibition”—Big Reel; “chronicles how economic and social history played out through the local movie business…offers historical entries for every theater that ever opened its doors”—Washington City Paper; “a real treat…imaginatively produced, superbly printed and written with both a great knowledge and great feeling for its subject matter”—Talking Pictures Magazine.