738 14th Street NW,
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Architects: Thomas White Lamb
Styles: Art Deco
Previous Names: Town II Theatre
One of Washington’s most elegant Art Deco theaters, the Trans-Lux opened in 1936, located on 14th Street between H Street and New York Avenue NW, about a block from the White House. It was designed by Thomas W. Lamb, and could seat 600 in the auditorium, on blue leather seats. The auditorium was decorated with painted murals by New York artist Andre Hudiakoff depicting various sports (the Trans-Lux showed newsreels and shorts).
Its name referred to the theater’s rear-screen projection, which allowed for the house lights to be kept on low as patrons were constantly coming and going. During the 40s and 50s, a couple of radio stations had studios on the second and third floors of the Trans-Lux.
The exterior was notable for its huge aluminum tower marquee, one of the largest in the city, which featured etched glass with multicolored lights shining through. The theater was also one of the first public buildings in Washington to feature air-conditioning.
Starting in 1948, the theater switched from a newsreel policy to a feature film policy. The Trans-Lux was operated by Don King’s Town Theatre Group during the theater' s final year of operation (1973-1974) and renamed the Town II Theatre. It was demolished in 1975, and its loss is still mourned by Art Deco afficionados to this day.
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