Garden Theater

3120 W. 25th Street,
Cleveland, OH 44109

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Garden Theater 1952

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Garden opened in 1925. My mother remembered attending in her girlhood, seeing Bela Lugosi in “Dracula” during one of its many reissues. Never a first run theater, it generally opened only on weekends, playing second or third run films on double features. During the 60’s, it was my favorite theater, simply because it was the one most conveniently located, right down the street from me on West 25th Street, a few steps down from Clark Avenue.

Like most second run neighborhood theaters, they had children’s matinees on Saturday and Sunday, often showing something other than the evening attractions, or perhaps adding a third feature to the program. Elvis Presley double features (“Love Me Tender” and “Jailhouse Rock”, with the addition of “Kid Galahad” for the Saturday-Sunday matinee) were pretty popular, as were horror shows from Hammer and American International (“Dracula, Prince of Darkness”, “The Pit and the Pendulum”, etc). I also saw quite a few sword and sandal epics there with Steve Reeves (“The Slave-The Son of Spartacus”, “Hercules”, “Duel of the Titans”).

But the major films played there as well, everything from “West Side Story” and “Lawrence of Arabia” to the James Bond series) once they completed their runs at the downtown theaters and the suburban second run movie houses.

The Garden holds a special place in my memories because it was the theater in which I was introduced to movies. So besotten was I by the movie posters outside the theater and in the lobby, I always insisted my mother take me by the theater when we were in the area, even when it was closed so I could look at the posters and peer in the doorway at the ones for the coming attractions. Otherwise, it was a fairly seedy place for much of its last years. For a long time, there was a hole in the screen that no one bothered to repair.

In 1969, the theater closed with the marquee announcing it would soon reopen as the Pussycat Theater, which would have given competition to the Paris adult theater across the street (formerly the Southern Theater). That never happened, and the Garden was demolished soon thereafter.

Contributed by Brian Fairbanks

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

dave-bronx™ on January 7, 2007 at 8:31 am

Lincoln (now Third Federal) Savings Bank was built on the site after the theatre was demolished.

itzibitz on March 10, 2008 at 8:04 am

While searching for a rare theater poster, I’ve come upon this! This area my childhood neighborhood (early 1950s). Memories of the Garden Theater were my father’s girlfriend/wicked stepmom-to-be, being a ticket seller. Can’t remember any films, but do remember ‘give-aways’ on stage.

(great site!)

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