LIttle Art Theatre
2523 N. High Street,
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Previous Names: Piccadilly Theatre, Olentangy Theatre, World Theatre
The Piccadilly Theatre opened in the silent era and continued showing films through the 1930’s. During its early years, it shared a building with The American Ceramic Society, Battelle Memorial Institute, and a post office. On July 14, 1939 it name was changed to Olentangy Theatre. In 1947, it was remodeled and renamed World Theatre. On September 13, 1949 it was renamed Little Art Theatre. The theatre struggled in the 1950’s, closing in 1954. It became a church in February 1954.
It reopened on May 18, 1961 as the Little Art Theatre with “Lady Chatters Lover” & “Fire Under Her Skin” which heralded the showing of risqué films. As the Little Art Theatre (or "Very Little Art Theatre" as some dubbed it), the theatre specialized in softcore and exploitation films. In the late-1960’s, it began showing stronger fare and by the early-1970’s was a porn theatre. Authorities regarded the theatre as a nuisance and it was often raided by vice officers.
In 1973, the city condemned the aging building as unsafe. A long legal battle followed that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The theatre alleged it was condemned to stop it showing X-rated films rather than for any building problems. The theatre lost and the building was torn down in 1976.
(text taken from A Century of University District Theatres)
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Recent comments (view all 20 comments)
Crystal was an early (very early) motion picture theater. Address is given as 2573 N. High. Listed in the city directories under “Motion Picture Theaters” but that’s about the extent of information available. No advertising (that I’ve found).
The only Columbus establishment called the Crystal Slipper that I can find references to on the Internet is this ballroom opened in 1926 and converted into Columbus’s first supermarket (and perhaps the first grocery store anywhere to call itself a supermarket) in 1934. This building, at 386 Lane Avenue W., was demolished in 1985.
Crystal Slipper certainly sounds more like a name for a ballroom than for a movie theater. Perhaps the building at 2573 High was also opened as a dance hall, but was unsuccessful and was converted into a movie house.
The Big Bear Supermarket on Lane Ave. was also a roller rink. While walking around the store, you could see the curvature of the rink.
Back to the subject at hand, these addresses don’t match up. The Little Art was 2523 N. High, which is south of Hudson St. The 2573 address is north of Hudson St. I think we are talking about two different facillites here.
Next library trip I’ll do a little more digging on this one.
Phil Sheridan’s “Wonderful Old Downtown Theatres, Vol. 3” lists a Crystal Theatre at 2673 N. High in 1911 and a Crystal Palace at 2573 N. High in 1913. The 2673 N. High address is between Dodridge and Arcadia.
This theater had another AKA. In 1947, a Motion Picture Herald item said that the 325-seat World Theatre, formerly the Olentangy, had been remodeled and was about to reopen. Operators Al Sugarman and Lee Hofheimer also operated the Avondale and Indianola Theatres.
On 9/14/1949, the WORLD moved south to the Alhambra building, and the Olentangy became known as the Little Theatre, playing classic films.
This reopened as Olentagny on July 14th, 1939. Small article uploaded.
Grand opening for Little Art and World from September 13th, 1949, posted.
This closed in 1954 and reopened on May 8th, 1961 as the Little Art with “Lady Chatter’s Lover” and “Fire under her Skin”. Grand opening ad posted
The Calvary Assembly of God Church took over the theater in February, 1954.Rev. L.E. Loretz was the evangelist and Mrs. Loretz was in charge of music and children’s activities.