Central Theatre

425-433 9th Street NW,
Washington, DC 20004

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Crandall Amusement Company, Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.

Architects: C.W. Sommerville

Previous Names: Imperial Theatre, Garden Theatre, Gayety Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Moore's GARDEN Theatre, Washington DC

Opened as the Imperial Theatre, on vaudeville with ‘Imperial Photo Plays’ as part of the bill, the opening date was November 20, 1911. The architect was C.W. Sommerville. An unusual feature of the design was that instead of having the usual side stage boxes on each side of the proscenium, there were a set of stairs on each side which led up from the front orchestra level to a loge section which was totally seperate from the main balcony.

In 1913 it was acquired by Tom Moore and he re-named it Moore’s Garden Theatre. He made extensive improvements to the theatre in 1918 and ran it successfully as a movie theatre.

In 1922 it was taken over by Henry Crandall and he re-named it the Central Theatre, again doing some improvements to the building. It re-opened on December 21, 1922 with the movie “Broken Chains” starring Colleen Moore. Eventally all the Crandall theatres were taken over first by the Stanley organisation who in turn were merged into the Warner Bros. Circuit Management. The Central Theatre was still shown in the Film Daily Yearbook as being operated by Warner Bros. in 1950, but this was its last year on movies.

The Gayety Theatre (later Shubert) had been a burlesque theatre for many years and when it went ‘legit’ in 1950, the name and style of entertainment transferred to the Central Theatre.

So the Central Theatre became the Gayety Theatre, with live burlesque until it closed and was demolished in June 1973.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

jflundy on August 6, 2008 at 2:33 am

Here is a photo with Moore’s Garden Theater in background around 1921.

View link

Local619 on September 1, 2008 at 4:05 am

Another link to the same picture.. a little more detail.. maybe


jflundy on December 17, 2008 at 3:42 pm


Circa 1916

This is a large and wide photo. Pan to right with your Browser to see “Moore’s Garden Theater”.

WAJWAJ on January 3, 2010 at 6:11 am

The text says this opened as the Imperial Theater in 1911, but advertisements in the Washington Post as early as Jan 4th, 1909 exist for burlesque shows at the Gayety Theater (“Ninth St Near F”) put on by my great-great grandfather, Louis Robie.

kencmcintyre on March 26, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Architect should be C.W. Sommerville as noted in the introduction.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on January 5, 2013 at 2:47 am

Some confusion, I’m finding a listing for the Central Coliseum Theatre, Washington DC in 1916. Would it be this one? From what I’m reading above, this hall was called Moore’s Garden in 1916. Thoughts?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 3, 2013 at 9:29 pm

The Gayety Theatre mentioned by WAJWAJ three comments back was a different house, listed here as the Shubert Theatre. The November 20 opening of the Imperial Theatre was noted in the November 25, 1911, issue of Variety.

Will, I haven’t found any period references to a Central Coliseum or Coliseum Theatre in DC, but as this house didn’t become the Central until 1922 it was probably unrelated to the 1916 house.

rivest266 on June 20, 2015 at 9:58 pm

December 21st, 1922 grand opening ad in photo section. Its opening was delayed until the 24th.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on June 20, 2015 at 10:59 pm

Found a reference in the theatre organ database for “Crandall’s Central Theatre” from 1922 when a new Robert Morton organ was installed.

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