Adaptive reuse of historic movie theaters

posted by Michael Zoldessy on June 24, 2009 at 7:40 am


I am completing a study of the adaptive reuse of historic movie theaters and churches. Many movie theaters are used as live performance space or event space, but I was wondering if anyone could direct me to some adaptive reuse projects that are unusual or more creative uses of the space.


Comments (11)

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on June 24, 2009 at 3:27 pm

I don’t know what kind of level of creativity you’re looking for, but I know that a number of old theatres are now used as bookstores with the majority of the interior detail intact.

I’ve seen some old theatres used as pre-schools and day care centers.

The Alameda Theatre in Alameda was used as a gymnastics school for awhile, even if the theatre wasn’t kept in the best condition.

SarahF on June 25, 2009 at 11:09 am

Thanks for the Alameda tip. Can you suggest any specific bookstores that I can look at? Any specific preschools or day cares?

Really any examples that aren’t currently live performance or event spaces uses would be great.


CSWalczak on June 25, 2009 at 2:09 pm

The former Parkside in San Francisco for awhile had an unusual combination use; the lower auditorium level was used for day care, while the balcony seating was retained for evening theater/movie screening use.

The former Alabama in Houston and the former Runnymede in Toronto are bookstores. Both of these former theaters have pages here on CT and both pages have links to pictures.

historiccinemas on June 26, 2009 at 8:45 am


Private Message me on Cinema Treasures with a synopsis of your project. Our company actually researches the information you are looking for.

Emeraldlorraine on July 11, 2009 at 3:07 pm

The Lido Theatre in Newport Beach is used on Sunday mornings for a church service. The Irvine 21 Theatre at the Irvine Spectrum was used by Mary Kay Cosmetics as part of a national live showing of a beauty consultant information presentation twice this past year at theatres across the country. I always remember that an ex boyfriend got a fellow snack bar worker pregnant. They are still married, yet legend happens that they were fooling around on the job. Talk about interesting breaks!

JenniferV on July 30, 2009 at 11:30 pm

The historic Alhambra in San Francisco is a gym.

QuickStudy on August 12, 2009 at 10:50 am

Sarah, I curently work at the Uptown Theater in Orangeville Ontario.The first floor was built in 1927, the second floor in 1971. The main floor stayed the same and is now a church santuary. We also show movies once a month, as well as sunday service and guest speakers. The upstairs theater’s chairs where all taken out and the floor was leveled. The room is now used for children’s activities, sunday school, and a small TV studio.

GreenTreeMatt on November 11, 2009 at 10:25 pm

Hi sarah, my company uses the old Trans-Lux Theater in Clarksville IN as a haunted attraction. called Psychomania Theater of Terror check us out we are listed in cinema treasures banks as Greentree 4. Thanks matt

TLSLOEWS on December 7, 2009 at 4:14 pm

The Bealle Meade in Nashville,Tennessee has been a book store for many years now.The marquee and signboards are still there and they advertise books and stuff, and most of the theatre is still intact.

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on December 9, 2009 at 10:56 pm

A book shop occupies the former Varsity Theatre in Stanford, Ca.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment