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Our favorite vintage movie theaters

Reminisce editors celebrate their favorite old movie theaters that you can still visit today!

Favorite Old Movie Theatres: The Academy of Music in Northampton, Massachusetts

The Academy of Music in Northampton, Massachusetts, is close to the editor’s heart. The turn of the century music hall was a beloved place to see movies. These days the theater focuses on live performances. Photo by Ross Melnick

Favorite Old Movie Theatres: Grand Theatre

The Grand Theatre is the heart of Fitzgerald, Georgia. Designed in the art deco style, the theater takes movie patrons back to a time when going to the movies was a treat. Photo courtesy of John Durkovic

Favorite Old Movie Theatres: The Oriental Theatre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The Oriental Theatre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, holds the record for continuous midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Need we say more? Photo Courtesy of Cinematreasures.org.

Favorite Old Movie Theatres: Rose Theatre in Port Townsend, Washington

A theater is only viable when its patrons truly adore it. When owner Rocky Friedman needed $200,000 to make the transition to digital, he reached out to the residents of Port Townsend, Washington, and they came through for him. Now the theater offers world-class films and live performances.

Favorite Old Movie Theatres: Alabama Theatre

The Alabama Theatre in Birmingham has entertained audiences in Birmingham since 1927 and survived near demoliton in 1987. Today, the theater features a diverse lineup of live performances and classic films such as Gone With the Wind.

Favorite Old Movie Theatres: Tampa Theatre

Built in 1926, the Tampa was recently named one of the 10 best movie theaters by the Motion Picture Association of America. It’s one of the best-preserved examples of old movie palace architecture. Photo by Joe Roberts

Favorite Old Movie Theatres: Vickers

Writer Rick Richards brought this theater in Three Oaks, Michigan, to our attention. Movie lovers Bill Lindbolm and Joe and Judy Scully bought the theater and converted it to digital. People in town call it “the hippest place to be.” Photo courtesy of Rick Richards

Favorite Old Movie Theatres: The Academy of Music in Northampton, MassachusettsFavorite Old Movie Theatres: Grand TheatreFavorite Old Movie Theatres: The Oriental Theatre in Milwaukee, WisconsinFavorite Old Movie Theatres: Rose Theatre in Port Townsend, WashingtonFavorite Old Movie Theatres: Alabama TheatreFavorite Old Movie Theatres: Tampa TheatreFavorite Old Movie Theatres: Vickers

Want more? Lynn Whitaker of Cynthiana, Kentucky, will forever treasure her trips to the Mount Olivet Movie House in Mount Olivet as a girl in the 1960s. Read her memory of the town treasure.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

John Hood September 7, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Also on that beauty of a list should be Miami’s Olympia at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts. Like The Tampa, this is one of John Eberson’s jewels, and it too dates back to 1926. The Olympia also still boasts its “Mighty Wurlitzer”!
http://gusmancenter.org/about/history.aspx

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HUGH WEST September 12, 2013 at 9:37 pm

A REALLY GRAND OLD THEATRE THAT YOU HAVE MISSED IS THE BEAUTIFUL AKRON CIVIC THEATRE. IT TOO IS A JOHN EBERSON JEWEL IN DOWNTOWN AKRON, OHIO. ALMOST COMPLETELY RESTORED TO IT’S ORIGINAL SPLENDOR & HAS THE MIGHTY WURLITZER ORGAN BEING PLAYED REGULARLY ALONG WITH ALL KIND OF LIVE PERFORMANCES & MOVIES. OH, & DON’T FORGET TO LOOK UP AT THE MOVING CLOUDS & STARS IN THE CEILING!

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Sandra Lewin September 12, 2013 at 12:53 pm

You left out the old and great Chicago Theatre in downtown Chicago. They had a stage show between movies. I saw Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis on stage there, and they introduced an up and coming singer who sang Come On-a My House – the one and only Rosemary Clooney.

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Barbara Adams September 12, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Cleveland has a wonderful theater district with the State and Palace restored to their original beauty. The district also includes Ohio, Hanna, Allen. The district is vibrant with many productions year round. Old movies are shown at the Palace in August including popcorn and singalongs.

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Henry Beckman October 4, 2013 at 10:55 am

Birmingham was blessed with many fine downtown movie theatres, but none
more beautiful than The Alabama! It’s even better now with everything restored and all walls and ceilings hand painted like the original artwork. Had my first
date there and will never forget the place.

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John Gillespie October 8, 2013 at 6:51 am

Two more beauties are the Byrd Theater in Richmond, VA (http://byrdtheatre.com/) and the Fox Theater in Atlanta, GA (http://www.foxtheatre.org/).

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David Wyatt October 21, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Growing up in Akron, I agree with Mr. West that the Akron Civic Theater is a masterpiece with it’s cloud projectors and the Mighty Wurlitzer. But I also argue for Columbus’s Ohio Theater, with it’s 2,000 plus pipe enlarged Morton organ and some of the most beautiful roccocco design I have ever seen. It’s a real treasure, and I think more of these great theater’s should be honored.

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Michael Kolody December 20, 2013 at 12:27 pm

The previous comments about Akron, Ohio’s beautiful Civic Theater are so true. It is unbelievably beautiful inside. It’s a work of art with its beautiful staircase, Wurlitzer organ, statues, and moving stars and clouds on the ceiling. I used to love to go there as a child in the 50′s and 60′s.

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Sharon March 19, 2014 at 11:59 am

The Tivoli Theatre in Chattanooga, TN is a beautiful, elegant old venue that now hosts concerts. My mother said it was “THE place” to go on a nice date back in the late 30s/early 40s.

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Patricia Kerschieter April 12, 2014 at 6:51 am

You can’t mention old theaters without including the Tennessee Theater on Gay Street in Knoxville Tennessee. It has recently been restored from top to bottom with all the luxury and gilt of bygone times. It comes complete with its own, original Mighty Wurlitzer Organ which is still played beautifuly today as it rises into view from the Orchestor Pit. It is played masterfully by a former President of the University of Tennessee, Dr. Bill Snyder.

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