Frederick Theatre

821 Linden Avenue,
821 East Pittsburgh Mall,
East Pittsburgh, PA 15112

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Additional Info

Architects: Harry S. Bair

Styles: Greek Revival

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The Melanos Brothers had several theatres in East Pittsburgh and the Frederick Theatre was their third and was built to the plans of Harry S. Bair in 1917. Golden and Crick Contractors delivered the theatre which had a Terra Cotta exterior and was also equipped with a pipe organ. It was the most ambitious Melanos facility to that date. The Frederick Theatre’s fireproof projection booth was outfitted with Powers Cameragraph projectors. The Melanos had used the same projectors in their Loyal Theatre and Lyric Theatre also in East Pittsburgh. The theatre additionally housed a terrazzo-floored billiards business in its basement, offices on the second floor, and third-floor apartments.

The venue operated through two leasing cycles. The first was a 15-year lease and the theatre closed permanently following the expiry of its second leasing period of 25 years. The Melanos Brothers operated the Frederick Theatre for its first four years before moving out of the country. The neighborhood was Greek and the Melanos sold the venue for $45,000 and the lease to N. Antonopolos. The Melanos family returned years later and would take back the Frederick Theatre and added the Urban Theatre.

The Frederick Theatre added sound to remain viable. Its slogan was, “The Home of Good Pictures.” The venue adopted a policy of allowing African-Americans to sit in the balcony when the neighborhood’s population began to change during World War II. George Katsela continued the Greek ownership of the venue to its closure in 1957 at the end of its leasing period. A neighboring florist and barber shop and the long-running billiards room seem to have remained for much - if not all - of the theatre’s run.

The building was offered for sale or lease in 1957 as television negatively impacted neighborhood theatres such as the Frederick Theatre. It appears to have been left vacant for the next 11 years. Buyers were likely wary of the sale advertisements claim that the sloped floor theatre with balcony and stage would be “easily converted for other uses”.

The building was listed as “to be razed” in 1967/1968 for urban renewal. Before that could transpire, arsonists torched the building on April 10, 1968 ending the building’s run. The East Pittsburgh Mall, a diminutive set of stores, was built on the block changing the street’s name from E. Linden Avenue to E. Pittsburgh Mall. That structure was still standing in the 2020’s.

Contributed by dallasmovietheaters
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