The very first shopping center theater: Stamford, CT or Seattle, WA ?????

posted by ArchStanton007 on April 18, 2007 at 2:00 am

Read in the postings for the Ridgeway, Stamford, CT that it opened in the summer of 1951 as America’s first shopping center theater, yet similar comments for both Northgate, Seattle, WA and Cinema Shopper’s World in MA claim that same distinction, yet both opened a few months after the Ridgeway.

Can anybody clarify any of this??

Thanks

Comments (16)

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 18, 2007 at 5:30 am

I don’t know exactly when the Hancock Village Theatre opened, but it may be before either of these. It was definitely a shopping center cinema.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on April 18, 2007 at 5:58 am

What counts as a shopping center theater? Many old theatres had stores attached.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 18, 2007 at 6:00 am

I’d say “set back from the street, in a strip of attached stores, with a parking lot between the street and the buildings”.

ArchStanton007
ArchStanton007 on April 18, 2007 at 7:16 am

I meant open air “strip mall” shopping centers.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on April 18, 2007 at 10:15 am

I think the first theatre is the Eagle Park Forest Theater, in Park Forest, Illinois. “The Park Forest opened in 1950 as the Holiday Theatre and was part of the Park Forest Shopping Center”. It has been 5-plexed, but is still grinding away. I live in Manteno, about 20 miles south of Park Forest, I guess I should go up to Park Forest and check with the Historical Society and/or library and see if I can get the exact date and what was showing.

“Ladies and Gentlmen, This Is CINERAMA!” Lowell Thomas

raymondstewart
raymondstewart on April 18, 2007 at 8:52 pm

The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta opened in 1939 and is in a shopping center, see the photo at http://www.plazaatlanta.com/history.html

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 18, 2007 at 10:28 pm

Looks like we have a winner. I didn’t know strip shopping centers even existed in 1939.

BudShepard
BudShepard on April 18, 2007 at 11:51 pm

GCC Shoppers' World Theater (single screen at 1,432 seats) opened on October 4, 1951 but actually was used more for “summer stock” then movies.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on April 19, 2007 at 2:42 pm

So I guess the question was what was the first theatre in a strip mall which dosen’t seem to me to be a shopping center. Of course we could have lots of fun with this, what was the first theatre in a,
shopping center/mall,
with parking lots all around it,
located in the parking lot,
as part of the shopping center,
the above in a enclosed mall,
the above that were multiplexed,
etc???

“Ladies and Gentelmen, This Is CINERAMA!” Lowell Tomas

David Wodeyla
David Wodeyla on April 19, 2007 at 9:47 pm

To Bud Shepard, the Cinema at Shoppers World was primarily a movie theatre, used for summer stock only, July and August of 1952 and 1953. (I have individual programs for each weeks presentations). Boxoffice Magazine of February 16, 1952, features the Cinema on the cover as one of 561 indoor theatres built that year. They also mention the Northgate in Seattle. The article says “There were two distinct trends during the year. One was the growth of the art house type of theatre. The other was in the shopping center theatre.”

Free-standing suburban shopping centers were a new idea in 1951, thus the unique status of the two locations.

Davidfox
Davidfox on April 21, 2007 at 11:16 am

Northgate occupied an area on the north edge of the shopping center property. It was not attached to stores.

Davidfox
Davidfox on April 21, 2007 at 11:17 am

Northgate occupied an area on the north edge of the shopping center property. It was not attached to stores.

David Wodeyla
David Wodeyla on April 21, 2007 at 3:29 pm

The Framingham Cinema was also on the edge, not attached to stores. Shoppers World was not a strip mall either, but two levels of stores as you would imagine a Mall, without a roof.

gregmiller
gregmiller on April 23, 2007 at 7:24 am

The Highland Park Village Theater opened in 1935. Highland Park Village is recognized as the first shopping center in America and the prototype for shopping centers across the country. According to the Urban Land Institute, Highland Park Village was the first development built on a single lot surrounded by parking areas with stores facing away from access streets. www.hpvillage.com

pfarchivist
pfarchivist on July 7, 2007 at 6:53 am

I am the archivist for the Park Forest Historical Society and developed the archives at the Park Forest Public Library.
The Holiday Theatre opened in October 1950, I believe. The files at the library do show what movie was playing when the theater opened, and the exact date. We have a program from the opening day celebration. I have been told it was the largest movie theater built in the Chicago area since the Depression. It had a cry room, which still exists, but I don’t know if they use it. The Holiday had two entrances, one from the mall side and one on the parking lot side. The Eagle still has the same entrances today.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on July 17, 2010 at 12:09 pm

The Melrose Theatre and Belle Meade Theatre both in Nashville,Tennessee opened in 1940 as anchors of newly built shopping centers so I do not believe these were the first by any means.

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