Loew's Theatre

125 North Main Street,
Dayton, OH 45402

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The Dayton Theatre opened on 4th May 1918 with the movie “The Re-making of a Nation”. It was the classiest of all the Dayton movie theatres. It was acquired by Loew’s Inc. in 1920 and from 1924-1930 was known as Loew’s Dayton Theatre and from 1930 to 1972 Loew’s Theatre.

It was a really cool theatre. It had a big oval mezzanine that was open to look down into the lobby. The balcony had more seats than the orchestra level! I watched a lot of Disney movies growing up in the 1960’s then went on to see concerts such a Phoebe Snow, Lou Reed, and George Carlin in the 1970’s. My grandmother gave me a table that was in the upper level lobby that has a mirror top and painting on the side.

I remember it being very plush. In the womens restroom they had about ten chairs in front of a big mirror for primping and lots of velvet chairs thoughout the theater.

In 1972 Loew’s sold the building and it was taken over by the owners of the Victory Theatre across the street. Re-named Palace Theatre it was used for concerts, but this was short lived and it closed in 1975 and was demolished.

News reports at the time stated that an office block would be build on the site which would include two theatres on the ground floor, but this never materialised and the site remains an empty lot, used for parking.

Contributed by Patty Stewart, Jerry Young

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 2, 2010 at 3:32 am

Here’s an item from the trade journal The Ohio Architect, Engineer and Builder, issue of February 6, 1917. Datelined Dayton, it probably refers to this theater:

“Architects Shenk and Williams are preparing plans for a theater to occupy the site of the old Baptist church on Main St. to be built for both pictures and drama, the cost of which will be $250,000. It will have a seating capacity of 2500 and will be built for the Dayton Theater Building Co., just organized by F. H. Rike, Charles W. Dale and others. Contracts will be awarded about the 15th of March.”
Taking more than a year to get a theater built in this period would have been unusual, except in 1917-1918, when the entry of the United States into the WWI led to some disruptions in both the labor market and the supply of building materials, especially in the industrial areas of the northeast.

Schenck & Williams (Harry I. Schenck and Harry J. Williams) was one of Dayton’s leading architectural firms during the 1910s and 1920s. I haven’t found any other theaters attributed to them, but they designed many other major projects.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 2, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Schenck & Williams designed the Dayton Theatre in a restrained Beaux Arts style, as can be seen from the photographs here, in the August, 1920, issue of the professional journal Architecture. There’s also a floor plan. Scroll down to see a page with four interior photos.

The Internet Archive reader displays the photos as they were published, so some face sideways on the monitor, and there’s no mechanism for turning them right side up. Fortunately, they can be downloaded. Resize the pages using the + sign in the toolbar at lower right, then right click and save as usual. Any decent image viewer program should be able to rotate them. I’d recommend IrfanView for anyone who doesn’t have it. It’s free, and fairly easy to use.

Patsy on March 27, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Thanks to Ken Roe in the UK he directed my steps to the Loews Dayton Theatre only to read that this theatre is gone and that “the site remains an empty lot used for parking”. So sad and so shameful that Dayton no longer has this treasured cinema!

Patsy on March 27, 2013 at 12:50 pm

When theatres like the Dayton came down in the 70’s for most likely Urban Renewal didn’t the folks of these communities ever think they would need or want a place to show movies, plays and musicals? They had this theatre and then let it be demolished for “an empty lot used for parking”.

Gary Smith
Gary Smith on September 18, 2013 at 9:22 am

Above is an url to a little video I posted on YouTube of the Loews Theatre. I used only the few photos that I had at the time so it is short.

MovieMad52 on April 5, 2014 at 6:14 pm

I worked here as an usher from June 1969 to June 1970, Carl Rogers had been manager from 1951 until 1970 when he transferred with Loews to Florida. He had a great 50th anniversary promotion in 1968. I go to walk the building just as the contractors where preparing to demolish the old palace. I wish I had gotten a piece of the balcony carpeting which featured the MGM lion logo.

showman1948 on August 24, 2014 at 2:43 pm

I was part of the team that operated The Palace from 72-75. Though it is sad that the out of town ownership (NY based group that also owned the Empire State Bldg)elected to raze this historic movie monument it did provide many tremendous sold out rock n roll, funk, and jazz shows under the leadership of James Burt. The stage featured shows by emerging artists of the day like Aerosmith, Joe Walsh Barnstorm, Kiss, Kansas, Wishbone Ash, George Benson, Parliament Funkadelic, Jackson Browne with Phoebe Snow, Soft Machine, Hawkwind, Bachman Turner Overdive, and many, many more. BTW, the carpet on the upper loge level, which I was able to obtain some of, featured the lion logo along with the words Loews and Metro Goldwyn Pictures. It was before the entry of Louis B. Mayer onto the operation.

MovieMad52 on May 5, 2015 at 10:26 pm

In over 46 years, starting here in the theatre business, it is the only theatre I have found the projection booth off the mezzanine shooting the picture from the front of the balcony,

rivest266 on April 1, 2018 at 9:26 am

Reopened as Palace on February 9th, 1972. Grand opening ad in the photo section.

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