Garden Theatre

12 W. North Avenue,
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

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Garden Theatre 1946.

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The Garden Theatre opened on October 12, 1914, and was designed by Thomas N. Scott. It has a graceful, Beaux-Arts style terra cotta facade.

When it first opened, it was called the New Garden Theatre, to distinguish it from an earlier theater of the same name.

After decades as a first and second-run neighborhood house, it switched to adult films in 1972.

Since the late-1990s, the city government had been trying to seize the property and shut it down, as part of a rehabilitation of neighborhood.

The Garden Theatre was finally closed in March of 2007, the last remaining porn theater in Pittsburgh. With the Garden Theatre’s closure, there are hopes that the theater can be reborn as a concert hall or other live entertainment venue.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 45 comments)

LouisRugani on September 4, 2009 at 6:41 pm

(The Valley Independent, Thursday, August 24, 1972)

X-rated films save Pittsburgh theatre closing

PITTSBURGH (AP)-Bambi, Snow White, King Kong and Godzilla are in trouble in Pittsburgh. The kids don’t want to see them anymore, say the operators of a local theatre. Only X-rated films, low budget scorchers once found in tiny back-room theatres, saved the historic Garden Theater from closing its doors.

Lee Hoffman, who co-manages the theatre with her husband Bob, says the “kiddie” movies were lucky to draw 15 oe 20 children on a good day, not nearly enough to put food on our table. “We tried the X-rated movies and they really stimulated the gross,” she said. “We had the choice of changing the policy or closing our doors."The Suckers,” “The Adult Version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and “Ribald Tales of Robin Hood” are some of the films which have replaced Walt Disney and other general attraction movies at the Garden.

Though the money is better, the newfound wealth is not understood by some. A small band of youngsters picketed the theatre earlier this week demanding “Kids' Power,” hollering for films they could attend.
“We told them that we don’t like these X pictures,” Hoffman said.
“Look at these records,“ his wife declared. "I remember this one especially. We showed matinee of ‘War of the Gargantuas’ and ‘Revenge of Godzilla.’ Nothing. A few kids and five adults.
"I don’t know where the children are going,” Mrs. Hoffman continued. “It used to be different. I remember a few years ago we played ‘King Kong vs. Godzilla’ and we broke records. The theatre was packed. We sold 40 bags of popcorn.”

SusanD on January 27, 2010 at 2:00 pm

With the advent of VCRs, this had to be one of the last porno theatres anywhere.

TLSLOEWS on February 28, 2010 at 4:09 pm

You are so right Susan.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on July 12, 2010 at 11:24 pm

From 1971 a photo postcard of the Garden Theatre in Pittsburgh.

TLSLOEWS on July 13, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Nice photo Don.

geoffdingle on October 27, 2010 at 11:29 pm

Six face sex charges after Garden Theatre raid
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh police raided the Garden Theatre on the North Side on Monday and arrested six men on sex charges.
Homer Kline, 73, and Aaron Freeman, 58, were charged with indecent assault after police said they grabbed the genitals of undercover officers as a way to initiate sexual encounters.
Four other men were charged with lewdness and indecent exposure: Barry J. Donahey, 52; Stephen R. Arnal, 48; Thomas Henry McCracken, 58; and Ronald Elvin Etheridge, 63.

Wellington1 on April 20, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Check out this vintage photo from 1927. Dorothy Gish is on the marquee and the coming attraction is Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on December 20, 2015 at 2:50 pm

1971 photo of auditorium here:

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