Shubert Theater

90 7th St E,
Cincinnati, OH 45202

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RKO Shubert Theatre, Cincinnati, OH -- 1936

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The Shubert was built inside what was originally the city’s original YMCA (which opened in 1848). The theater opened in 1921 as a venue for legitimate theatrical performances. The Shubert switched to a combined use venue for movies and stage shows in 1935.

The theater was closed in 1953 and reopened as Rev. Earl Ivies' Revival Temple.

Just two years later, however, the theater was renovated and once again returned to legitimate theater. In 1976, the Shubert was demolished to make way for a parking lot. Today, there is an office building on the site.

Contributed by Ray Martinez, Anna Horton

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

Joeallen
Joeallen on November 1, 2006 at 4:15 pm

That’s interesting. I never knew the Cox Theater was named after Boss Cox. Learn something new every day. I have a picture of the Cox Theater. Just e-mail me at and I’ll reply with it if you want it.

hanksykes
hanksykes on January 6, 2007 at 1:38 pm

Boss Cox at one time owned ,with the Shubert Brothers ,the largest theater in this country, the Hippodrome Theater in NYC. Boss Cox died in 1916.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on February 15, 2007 at 6:06 pm

Here is a January 1976 article about the demolition of the Shubert:

Old Shubert Theater Torn Down

CINCINNATI (AP) â€" There has been little applause in the Shubert Theater in recent years and there was little mourning when it was razed by a wrecker’s ball along with the Cox Theater next door over the weekend. “I was a stage hand 22 years in there and now I’m tearing it down,” said Larry Trumbo, one of the wrecking crew. “I feel bad about it. But what can you do? They didn’t bring shows in there anymore ”.

The Cincinnati owners of the two downtown theaters said the land will be converted to a parking lot. The Theater Guild-American Theater Society canceled the 1975-76 season at the Shubert when touring companies refused to play Cincinnati because of financial losses in previous years. The 1,000 advance subscribers received refunds. The last two shows at the Shubert, however, were sellouts. Comedian Redd Foxx had two performances May 3, 1975, billed as “a black show for black people ”.

The Shubert Co. of New York spent $250,000 refurbishing the Shubert in 1964. The granite building was constructed by the YMCA in 1848 and Shubert converted it to a theater in 1921. Both theaters became vacant in the 1950s when the U.S. Department of Justice ordered them sold in an antitrust action. Shubert was allowed to reopen them in 1954 when no one bought the buildings. But productions there of “Misalliance,” “The Moon Is Blue” and “Dial M for Murder” played to almost empty houses.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on July 9, 2007 at 9:17 pm

This is a larger view of the picture at the top of this page.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on December 16, 2008 at 8:03 pm

From Boxoffice magazine, January 1938:

RKO Shubert Theater, Cliff Boyd, manager, has dropped its straight film policy and has extended upon an 18-week program of vaudeville and films. lack of super productions and roadshows, which this house featured, is given as the reason.

hanksykes
hanksykes on August 5, 2009 at 3:50 pm

According to an Enquirer paper article during the Shuberts times as a vaudeville theater one of the acts made a huge dent on its history. Apparently the Power’s Elephant Act fell through to the former YMCA swimming pool as the stage had been built over the original aquadic architectural feature.

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on April 3, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Click here for a photograph of the RKO Shubert taken in 1936.

hanksykes
hanksykes on April 21, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Thanks Brad Smith for the heads up on the photos,what great shots!!!!

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on April 21, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Thank you for your good words, Hank. I haven’t had time to link specific Cinema Treasures' theaters to corresponding photographs yet, but I should be able to do that within the next week or two.

Your mention in an earlier post of elephants falling through to the former YMCA swimming pool suggested to me posting a couple of photographs of vaudeville elephants at the Palace Theatre in Chicago in 1937. You can see the first photograph by clicking here and the second one by clicking here. Both of the photographs were taken by George Mann of the comedy dance team, Barto & Mann.

michaelhoopes1
michaelhoopes1 on January 21, 2013 at 5:01 am

I saw Godspell, the broadway musical at The Shubert Theatre in 1973. It was a Beautiful Theatre, it is a shame that Cincinnati does not appreciate Theater like it should. Cincinnati has destroyed the Rko Albee, The Palace Theater, the Skywalk Cinema, The Times Theatre and others.

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