Tag: Movie Theaters

  • Deco Gothic in Mount Lebanon

    Though old Pa Pitt has not yet found any documentary evidence, he identifies this building with some confidence as an old neighborhood movie house. The marquee, the Hollywood Gothic fantasy terra-cotta front, and the shape of the building (it is fairly long from front to back) all suggest a movie theater of the silent era.


  • Hollywood Theater, Dormont

    Almost every neighborhood in Pittsburgh and the urban inner suburbs had a neighborhood movie house—or several of them—in the silent-movie era, and many of those buildings are still standing (here are all of old Pa Pitt’s articles on movie theaters). What is nearly unique about the Hollywood, built in 1925, is that it is still showing movies. In fact it shows first-run movies these days, with occasional classic revivals, and a theater-organ performance every once in a while. The Theatre Historical Society of America bought the place in 2018, and we can hope that they will be able to keep it going for many years.

    We can see from this picture that the building has gone through some renovations over the decades, not all of them sympathetic. But the basic outline has not changed. For some reason Mission style was very popular in Dormont in the 1920s, and the Hollywood’s movie-lot interpretation of Spanish-colonial architecture is very appropriate for its setting and use.

    A detailed history of the theater is at Cinema Treasures. The theater is just a few steps away from the Potomac station on the Red Line.


  • Heinz Hall

    One of the first great silent movie palaces (the old Loew’s Penn) to be turned into a concert hall, Heinz Hall set a trend, both here and elsewhere. With the old Stanley and Fulton (now the Benedum and Byham), it is one of the three large anchors of the theater district downtown.

  • Beechview Theater Under Renovation

    A videography and photography company that has been in business for some years is renovating the old Beechview Theater. This was a silent-movie house built before 1914 (since it appears in a guide to Pittsburgh published that year, in which Beechview is described as “beyond the South Hills”); after its movie days, it spent a long time as an American Legion post, and then for a while it was a nursing home. Old Pa Pitt hopes it will be loved in its new career that brings it back very close to its roots.

    An update: According to a 1923 map, this was called the Olympic Theater. There were at least three theaters in Beechview in 1923. See the theater in its restored state here.

  • Brighton Theater, California-Kirkbride

    One of the most exuberantly gaudy Art Deco façades in Pittsburgh is in a neighborhood almost no one ever visits. Fortunately things are looking up in California-Kirkbride—or Calbride as it’s called by denizens—which was once a notoriously bad neighborhood. Restoration mania has taken root in the Old Allegheny Rows Historic District, spilling over from the Mexican War Streets and Allegheny West nearby. Meanwhile, this building is preserved by lucky economics: it houses a letter-carriers’ union and some other tenants who will keep it standing without spending the money to change its appearance significantly. According to comments on this page at Cinema Treasures, the theater was built in 1928, replacing an earlier Brighton Theater on Brighton Road (this one is on the parallel Brighton Place).

    The architect’s scheme called for three masks to decorate the central section, so we have one Comedy and two Tragedies. And don’t miss the thoroughly Art Deco elephants on the corners:

  • The Royal (and Its Neighbor)

    The Royal was one of at least four movie houses on the South Side. From the architectural style we can guess that it was one of the earlier ones, dating from the silent era. These two buildings are currently under restoration.