121 S. Jefferson Street,
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Previously operated by: Marcus Theatres
Architects: Gustave A. Niehus
Styles: Spanish Renaissance
When this theater was opened on December 6, 1913 with Helen Gardner in “The Princess of Bagdad”. It was said to be the most beautifully decorated movie house in Dayton at the time. At a cost of $30,000 the paneled ceilings of the auditorium were decorated in a creme color. The beams and all ornamental plaster work were white and gold. The upper walls were of a gold tone with Renaissance style decoration in the style of the 15th century art. The lower walls were decorated with a Spanish leather effect which was done by overglazing with different colors.
The entrance of the theater featured a horseshoe shaped entrance, lit by a number of electric bulbs, a rather new invention at the time. A Wurlitzer Automatic Orchestra provided music for the films.
As the years went on, the theater started to decline, both due to neglect and B-grade movies. By the 1940’s the theater rarely advertised and was considered a cheap alternative to the more expensive downtown theaters. In 1948, the theater was purchased and remodeled. It was too late. The once beautiful theater was considered by many to be gaudy and outdated.
The Columbia Theater shut its doors in May 1955 and was demolished shortly there after to become a parking lot. The original site is now part of green space/park in downtown Dayton.
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