Omaha Theater

1506 Douglas Street,
Omaha, NE 68102

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The World, Omaha NE in 1927

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened in 1922, the World Theater was one of Omaha’s finest examples of Beaux-Arts, and was reputed to have the most beautiful exterior of any of the theaters designed by architect C. Howard Crane.

The main facade consisted of a five-part, glazed terra-cotta composition with elaborately articulated parts. Central to the composition were three-story round arched windows and iron mullions, railings, and blustraded sills. The windows were framed by four groups of coupled Corinthian columns, which supported an enriched frieze and cornice complete with dentils and modillions. A parapet wall with sculptured inserts and the inscribed words, World Theatre topped the structure.

The theater’s name was subsequently changed to the Omaha Theater, and despite considerable community effort to save it, it was closed February 26, 1978. The theater was demolished in 1980 to make way for a multi-story parking garage.

Contributed by Richard Pittenger

Recent comments (view all 21 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on November 29, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Wellen; It’s a website based in Adelaide, Australia, mainly about Wurlitzer organs around the world:

mormonpreacher on November 29, 2009 at 7:30 pm

Here’s a thought that I’ve had for some time, after researching at the Omaha city planning department. I discovered that the blue-prints for the World/Omaha Theater are still down there, permanently preserved on micro-film.

The lot it sat on is still only occupied by a parking garage, and not an excessively expensive, valuable highrise office building.

Wouldn’t it be incredible if money could be raised and support garnered from some quarter to recreate this wonderful building?

I’ve thought alot about this kind of stuff. I think there’s a real, viable solution to the problem that provided the inspiration for the creation of this website. The Europeans have spent billions of dollars to recreate their historic, bombed out cities. Why could we as American lovers of architecture not start our own movement to begin recreating and rebuilding our own urban-renewal destroyed cities?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 13, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Here is a photo of the World Theatre that appeared in an ad for Crane plumbing fixtures in a 1923 issue of the trade journal Domestic Engineering and the Journal of Mechanical Contracting.

rivest266 on December 4, 2011 at 11:46 am

April 15th, 1922 grand opening ad as World has been posted here

rivest266 on December 4, 2011 at 1:03 pm

February 20th, 1935 grand opening ad as Omaha has been posted here

TorstenAdair on January 30, 2012 at 12:21 pm

According to the WPA Guide to Omaha, there was a theater on the east side of this block, where the UP Center is now located (formerly a parking lot, directly north of the library). Am I mistaken? And if it did exist, did it ever show movies, or just live shows?

histrebuff on September 14, 2013 at 12:45 am

The UP Center is located on 15th & Douglas. The Rialto Theater was located on the corner and it showed movies. Later the building contained the men’s store Tully’s. The only movie I saw at the Omaha was “Jaws”. Now that entire block is a parking garage. Downtown Omaha is now just a mass of parking lots & parking garages. I’ve lived here all my life and am very disappointed with the lack of historical preservation and seeing memorable buildings being demolished.

Ogthedog on September 22, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Mormonpreacher, you think like I do. I would love to see Omaha’s old “theater row” recreated. The problem is, there was a reason those buildings were knocked down. They weren’t viable from a business standpoint. How would someone make a new Omaha Theater work?

atmos on June 27, 2015 at 8:26 am

Theatre closed 26 Feb 1978 and was demolished in 1980.

JIM_POLZOIS_13 on November 1, 2015 at 1:46 pm

I last saw this theater in 1955, when I was agout 16 years. The interior was in neoclassival, “Adam” style, in colors of Pompeian red, moss green and cream. Very restained and rather elegant. At that time the organ was still in the pit, though the grille openings originally draped with curtains had been plastered over and painted. Some said that the organ originally spoke throught a “mixing” chamber from the ceiling, though I doubt this very much. The sight-lines in this theater wer pehnomenal. From the last row on the orchestra level one felt as though one could reach out and touch the stage. There were two balconies, neither very deep. The house was usually quoted as seating 2200.

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