11815 Lorain Avenue,
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Previously operated by: Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.
Architects: Nicola Petti
Styles: Spanish Gothic
News About This Theater
- Jun 26, 2012 — The Fall of the American Movie Palace Lecture
The Variety Amusement Company opened the Variety Theatre on November 24, 1927 with Clara Bow in “Hula” and vaudeville on the stage. Guest organist Edward Benedict opened the Kimball organ. Seating was provided for 1,550 in the orchestra level and 350 in the balcony. There were 3 dressing rooms. In 1929 it was taken over by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp. and they operated it until 1954 when it was taken over by an independent operator. The huge vertical name sign on the façade was damaged by a tornado in 1953 and had to be removed. The theatre had shown sub-run films during the 1970’s, and brought in cult midnight movies in the early-1980’s. At the same time it became a rock music venue. The theatre was also used as a “haunted theatre” for a couple of years in the 1980’s, in which there was a haunted tour of the theatre, while horror films were playing on the screen.
Lack of off-street parking and the high cost of utilities and other expenses for a single screen theatre forced the Variety Theatre to close in 1986. Later on, a private school in the Cleveland area, Freedom Academy, used the theatre as a performing arts school. A boxing academy last occupied the Variety Theatre until 1990.
Since 2006, the Variety Theatre has been in the process of restoration and renovation by new owners, the Friends of the Historic Variety Theatre, which hopes to reopen the theatre as a venue for both on-screen and live performances. In September 2016 a replica of the original vertical name sign was installed and re-lit. The building was ‘For Sale’ in summer of 2021. Restoration began in September 2022. The Variety Theatre is a Designated Cleveland Landmark.
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