5505 East Washington Street,
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The Irving Theater was opened on December 3, 1913 by H.L. Whitehead of the Idle Hour Amusement Company. The theater was erected by the Guthrie-Thompson Company at a cost of $15,000. It had 535 seats and ‘every appliance to make a perfect picture’. The theater ran as a 10-cent house and showed films from the General Film Company. The Irving Theater was originally built as a single-story theater, in a Spanish style with Oriental motif. The Irving name was chosen in a neighborhood competition, that included the participation of three locally prominent judges.
The property was purchased by Charles Walker and underwent a major renovation enhancing the look and feel of the street corner, Renovations included adding a second story to the front of the theater for a fire-proof projection room and two additional rooms. Approximately 50 feet was added to the rear of the original theater, increasing the seating capacity to 600 (and in some publications give as 725 seats).
The Walker family sold the Irving Theater in 1969 to a group of investors. They operated the theater under the Festival Theater name as an XXX movie house, so named after a prominent adult film distribution company. Angry Irvington residents and City officials tried for 10 years through various legal proceedings to close the theater.
In the early-1980’s, the theater reopened for about two years as the Zenon I Theater, showing second run movies and having some live performances.
In 1987, the theater was purchased by a group of Irvington businessmen and reopened in October 1987 as the Irving Theater. The Irving Theater again achieved great success this time as a foreign and art movie theater, many nights filling to capacity.
Closing in 1994, and sold at auction and there were several attempts to find a suitable reuse. The theater reopened in December 2008 as an entertainment destination hosting national touring and local musicians as well as locally produced and old-time movies.
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