2484 E. Main Street,
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Previously operated by: J. Real Neth Theaters Co.
Styles: Streamline Moderne
Previous Names: Neth's Bexley Theatre, Bexley Art Theatre, Bexley 1 & 2
The Bexley Theatre was one of the first twin-screen theatres ever built when it opened on October 20, 1935. At the time, it used a unique projection system that split the projector beam into two identical images so that the same film could be shown simultaneously in both auditoriums.
In 1954, the Bexley Theatre became part of the Art Theater Guild chain. By the 1960’s, the split-projector system had long been abandoned, and the two screens always showed separate films. But bookings were often shared with the chain’s other Columbus house, the World Theater on North High Street next to Ohio State University.
When I knew it in the late-1960’s and early-1970’s, the Bexley Theater showed primarily foreign and art films, but some bookings tended to be on the racy side–for instance, “I Am Curious (Yellow”. Occasionally they showed revivals – I recall attending several evenings of a Charlie Chaplin film festival there in the early-1970’s.
As the 1970’s wore on, the bookings devolved towards soft porn (e.g. “The Stewardesses”) and eventually hard porn. In its final few years it was little more than an appendage to an X-rated video store, and very much an anomaly in this quiet, upper-middle-class Columbus suburb.
After years of controversy, the Bexley Theater was demolished in 1997 to make way for a McDonald’s fast-food restaurant. The McDonald’s did not last long, and was in turn replaced by the Chipotle Mexican restaurant that stands on the site today.
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