Circle Theatre

2105 Pennsylvania Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20037

Unfavorite 2 people favorited this theater

Help us make this street view more accurate

Please adjust the view until the theater is clearly visible. more info

Circle Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Circle’s Art Deco stylings were a bit tattered by the time it became a repertory house in the 1970’s and 1980’s showing double features with a matinee of only $1 (full price was $2).

Many homeless people found comfort in the not-so-comfortable chairs.

The screen was small, the house lights were dark, the deco trimmings were crumbling, but it was a popular haunt for older films.

The theater was adjacent to “The Inner Circle” which ran first and second run movies.

Both theaters were demolished in the early-1980’s to make way for a parking garage.

Contributed by Paul Schwartz

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

mh1greene on July 30, 2009 at 9:31 am

As a student at GW in the early seventies I’m pretty sure I spent more time at the Circle than I did in class…probably learned more too. Even now I look over at the abomination of a building that stands in its place and think about all those great film festivals (Bergman, Kurosawa, Trufeau, etc.)that I saw for a dollar. At their peak the Pedas owned many other Circle moviehouses in DC; the Inner Circle, the Outer Circle, Circle West End, etc. It was a great place to see a movie. How about the old DuPont, the Biograph, the Janus and the Cerberus? Wow, those were the days. Thank God the Uptown is still standing. When they junk that one, I’m going with it. – Mike Greene

mh1greene on October 29, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Great picture! Thanks. I had forgotten about the eatery next door…I wonder how many incarnations that had. And in the sixties there was a liquor store on the corner. Hey, what’s happened to all the liquor stores?

Really hurts to think that place is gone.

ln569 on July 24, 2014 at 3:50 am

AS a student at GWU, I unwittingly attended a show on the last day of operation of The Circle. In November 1986, I saw an evening showing of Brazil because it was almost across the street from my dorm. The next day, I was at the bank located at Pennsylvania & 21st street applying for (and being denied) my first debit card when I looked out the window and I saw workers removing theater seats from the building, which was demolished and the rubble was left fenced in until March 1987 because they had discovered asbestos and it could not be properly removed. The liquor store did indeed remain until it closed.

Giles on July 26, 2014 at 4:32 pm

still no separate listing for the Inner Circle theater. I was recalling/mentioning this on Facebook the other day. I remember seeing Monty Python’s ‘The Holy Grail’ and ‘Life of Brian’ at the Circle – classic! And over at the Inner Circle, ‘Liquid Sky’ and two ‘no one under 17’ movies ’Re-Animator' and ‘Demons’ – apparently they were really lax on not enforcing that restriction [insert smiley face]

jimlawrence on July 29, 2014 at 1:08 pm

“Book ticket!” was the cry from the lady who would sell me book after book of 10 tickets for $10. I still have one or two books. Of course, each ticket would admit you to two classic films.

Bob, the loveable old ticket taker took a shine to me and would only accept a ticket every other visit. I felt like I lived there – often attending several nights in a row, year after year. I would even walk miles uphill back up to Glover park after a particularly good film to savor it instead of taking the 30, 32, 36 or 38 bus up Pennsylvania and Wisconsin avenues.

I must take issue with the original poster – the seats were comfortable – and the poster who said the screen was small. It was large (several times larger than the Biograph’s screen)and one of the larger screens in town at that time. I remember the Uptown and Avalon being larger.

After seemingly hundreds of nights in that theater I don’t remember any homeless people. They certainly weren’t making their presence known to me.

I truly loved that beautiful old theater and was sad to see it go.

It was the foundation of my film education and the beginning of my love affairs with Kurosawa, Fellini, Cocteau, Welles, Bergman, Allen, Coppola, Capra, Hitchcock, Bertolucci, Ford, Kubrick, Chaplin, Scorsese, Huston, Altman, Wertmuller, and dozens more.

Does anyone remember Mr. Henry’s across the street on the same block? Many wonderful meals discussing film there before and after the show.

CharlieCoates on November 12, 2014 at 2:45 pm

I was a regular at the Circle from 1970-1972 while stationed at the Pentagon. Double features were the rule and the films shown always had some sort of relationship, usually by star or genre.

I vividly remember my first visit to the Circle in May of 1970. The double bill featured Bogart: Casablanca and The Big Sleep. The audience was dominated by college students and their enjoyment of and involvement in the films (particularly Casablanca) was palpable. Of the many days and nights I have spent at the movies, that ranks as one of the best.

NoneSoPretty on January 13, 2015 at 1:43 pm

When Mary Pickford died in 1979, her portrait behind the popcorn stand was draped in black velvet bunting. Keep on dialing 331-7480, no need for 202 area code!

deeceevoice on November 17, 2015 at 10:47 pm

The Circle Theatre was one of a stable of theaters (along with The Inner Circle and The Outer Circle) owned by the Pedas Brothers at 21st and Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. It specialized in “repertory cinema.” There was a regular collection of film classics that played there in steady rotation, and if you shelled out $10 for a book of ten tickets, you could catch a double feature for a dollar. And back then, popcorn didn’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Those were the days. :)

deeceevoice on November 17, 2015 at 10:50 pm

The Circle West End is the only Circle movie house remaining in D.C., but I don’t think it’s still owned by the Pedas Brothers.

Betzee on July 2, 2016 at 1:20 pm

As a graduate student at GWU from 1984 to 1986, I spent a fair bit of time in the Circle Theatre. I can remember one evening screening in which a homeless man was sleeping in the back. When he woke up and began to mutter loudly part way through the film, members of the audience initially didn’t know what was going on. The Circle was a bit down on its heels, but still a beloved art house and repertory fixture of the Washington arts scene.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater