Dunbar Theatre

619 N. Central Avenue,
Baltimore, MD 21205

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Dunbar Theatre

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The Dunbar Theatre claimed to be the first African-American owned theatre to operate in Baltimore. Designed by Callis & Callis it opened on November 22, 1916. It was enlarged in November 1923 to the plans of Oliver B. Wight & E.A. Lockhart to give a seating capacity of 500. Remodeled again in 1929 to the plans of J.F. Dusman and the seating capacity was increased to 944. It became the first African-American theatre in Baltimore to install both Vitaphone and Movietone sound systems.

A serious fire practically destroyed the Dunbar Theatre in June 1945. It was rebuilt in the summer of 1946, reopening on July 5. It was purchased by the city in 1957 and was closed on January 14, 1958 with Henry Fonda & Anthony Perkins in “The Tin Star”. It was demolished later that year. A housing project was built on the site.

Contributed by Ken Roe, Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

dallasmovietheaters
dallasmovietheaters on June 19, 2016 at 6:38 am

Closed January 14, 1958 with its final film, “The Tin Star.”

coastnut
coastnut on June 4, 2017 at 11:20 pm

My great grandfather, Josiah Diggs, was one of the owners and operators of this establishment. I have a few fond memories from my childhood visits to Baltimore and across town with my granddad to explore behind the scenes, watch a movie and gobble free popcorn.

Jcarr02
Jcarr02 on February 10, 2018 at 6:06 am

Hello CoastNut we have to be family then because Josiah Diggs would have been my fourth generation grandfather. He’s my grandfathers great grandfather I live in Baltimore and my Grandad has been enlightening me on my elders I was looking into this because my son has to complete a paper for black history month and I’m researching to see what info I can find for him to actually talk about someone who is related to him

JamesHHilburn
JamesHHilburn on February 11, 2018 at 7:58 am

What’s the chances! My great-great-grandfather was Josiah Diggs. I am using my great-grandfather’s name on this account Dr James Hilburn, He was part of the movie theater also. Which of Josiah’s children are you both related to?

JamesHHilburn
JamesHHilburn on February 11, 2018 at 9:48 am

So JCarr you are 3rd generation of Adele Carr?

JamesHHilburn
JamesHHilburn on February 14, 2018 at 4:21 am

Hi JCarr, I am working on family tree including old paper cuttings from Baltimore, if you need anything for your sons Black history month? just let me know.

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