Key Theatre

1222 Wisconsin Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20007

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Additional Info

Architects: Louis Henry Layton III

Functions: Furniture Showroom

Nearby Theaters

A special night for Arthur

The Key Theatre (named for Francis Scott Key), located on Wisconsin Avenue near M Street, opened on April 9, 1969 and for almost 30 years was one of the most popular independent art houses in Georgetown. The Key Theatre closed in December 1997 and the building now houses a furniture store.

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Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

Ken Holmes
Ken Holmes on September 7, 2011 at 2:35 pm

In 1974 I and a date warmed up in the Snuggery at Martin’s Carriage House, then went to the Key to watch Mel Brook’s “The Critic” (see it on YouTube), followed by Lenny Bruce Performance Film (that is Lenny Bruce performing, not the Dustin Hoffman film “Lenny” that was in theaters at the same time. I’m a little older and I might not laugh as much as I did at the time, but I do love the memory.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 19, 2011 at 9:22 pm

The entry for architect Louis Henry Layton III in the 1970 directory of the AIA lists the Key Theatre in Washington, DC, as one of his works.

Eddie_Dornack on May 11, 2012 at 11:36 pm

I would like to respond to all of you but that would become a thesis. I’m Eddie Dornack & I was the guy who ran the Key fron 1972 until it closed. I staged the funeral & designed the entire upstairs. Rabi, Alex & Trent were great friends & employees as were Zalman, Mimi, Misty, Baron & god forbid Mark. I’ll be glad to answer any questions. I would love to hear from Cushing 1961 & Randytheicon. Yes the barbecues on the roof were great but the ladder & the tar were a problem. E.

raysson on October 6, 2014 at 9:30 am

The KEY THEATER basically opened in 1969 as a single screener and later on was split into two sections and somewhere during the late-1970’s/early-1980’s when from 2 tO 4 screens showing first-run independent features, documentaries and foreign films.

Giles on October 6, 2014 at 1:37 pm

my fond memory of the Key theater was a Sunday morning pre-release screening of ‘The Crying Game’ (Key Sunday Cinema Club) – someone accidentally dropped their coffee on my back … and the movie itself was great.

rivest266 on June 28, 2015 at 2:12 pm

April 9th, 1969 grand opening ad in photo section

randytheicon on October 19, 2015 at 3:50 pm

The Key never was a double. It opened with the original single-aisle screen, and then the three smaller upstairs screens were added in 1985.

In the mid-1980s there was a movie-themed gift shop next to the main entrance. Bought a few posters there…and proceeded to lose one of them that night at the Cerberus.

smalzz on August 4, 2016 at 11:11 pm

I saw more than a few movies at the Key. The one I remember most was Cronos, from Del Toro. Brilliant film. Icing on the DC memory cake: I won two tickets to the show by correctly answering three movie related trivia questions at the original 9:30 Club. They were posted on a Xerox in the Back Bar. I don’t remember the questions but I do remember that Russ Meyer was the answer to one of them! Good times.

Drofnas on January 14, 2018 at 1:29 pm

I believe it was summer of 1978 or 79 when Jimm Altman’s band Scandals played a show at the Key Theater. Was anyone else here in attendance?

Keith1974 on August 3, 2023 at 4:11 pm

Saw THE TOXIC AVENGER there. It was the censored R-rated version and was in one of the upstairs theaters.

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