Uptown Theater

2730 Market Street,
Youngstown, OH 44507

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Uptown Theatre

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The Uptown Theater opened on November 26, 1926. It closed as a movie theater in the late-1980’s. It was last used as a live performance theater in the early 1990’s.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 21 comments)

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on June 2, 2012 at 10:49 pm

The Uptown Theater to reopen.

An investment group has acquired the Uptown Theater and plans to reopen it as a dinner theater showing both movies and stage shows. “The Uptown area is a goal of mine to revitalize and bring business back. I believe the only way to do it is with people who believe in the community. We need private and government funds to make these things happen,” she said. “I am hoping this is just the beginning.” Shabazz plans to turn the theater into a movie theater and live performance combination. The theater, she said, will be made to accommodate tables so patrons can have dinner while enjoying a show. The dinner served inside the theater will be provided by the planned restaurant in the attached building. She said those who do not want to eat inside the theater would be able to enjoy a meal in the restaurant, which will have a light-hearted theme where employees interact with patrons

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on June 2, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Actually the Uptown Theater dates back to the late 1920’s.

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on June 2, 2012 at 10:57 pm

THE FULL ARTICLE

An investment group is hoping to bring back the bright lights that once came from the Uptown Theater on Market Street — and the crowds those lights brought to the Uptown District. The Uptown Theater has sat vacant for nearly two decades with plywood covering all windows and doors. Leaves and debris have blown up against the entryway, and the adjacent building is missing windows from where vandals have thrown rocks. Shasta Shabazz, owner of Real Estate Investment Connection, is in the process of purchasing both buildings for the formation of a movie-theater/restaurant combination. She said the new name of the theater will be “Showtown Theater” with an attached restaurant called “Rudez.” “We are really just trying to revamp up Youngstown,” she said. “We are trying to bring history back. We are going to upgrade some of the stuff inside the place, but we are trying to bring it back to the way it was.” The theater does have a long history in the Uptown District. The Uptown Theater Company was incorporated in 1926 for $500, with the actual theater built that same year at a cost of $125,000. The theater switched hands several times between 1926 and 1965 when it underwent extensive remodeling. The theater changed hands several more times before closing to movie- goers in the late 1980s. Easy Street Productions did make the theater home in the early 1990s, but eventually left the theater for its current home at the DeYor Performing Arts Center. There was a final attempt to breathe new life into the theater with a gospel music show, but the theater has since sat unused. Shabazz said she and her husband, Ondrea Shabazz, have acquired the theater and the attached building next door that will ultimately become a restaurant. She plans to have the theater and restaurant up and running within the next year. Councilwoman Janet Tarpley, D-6th Ward, said she is hoping to see the theater open and flourish. She said revitalizing the Uptown District is a goal, and there has been much interest in business in that area. “The Uptown area is a goal of mine to revitalize and bring business back. I believe the only way to do it is with people who believe in the community. We need private and government funds to make these things happen,” she said. “I am hoping this is just the beginning.” Shabazz plans to turn the theater into a movie theater and live performance combination. The theater, she said, will be made to accommodate tables so patrons can have dinner while enjoying a show. The dinner served inside the theater will be provided by the planned restaurant in the attached building. She said those who do not want to eat inside the theater would be able to enjoy a meal in the restaurant, which will have a light-hearted theme where employees interact with patrons. Shabazz said she got the idea from similar businesses in the Atlanta area where she and her husband had lived for the past year. She said they wanted to start a similar business in Georgia, but decided to come back home to Youngstown and do it here. “We wanted to bring some life back to that area, bring some entertainment back to the city, and that is what we are trying to do. We are confident that we can do this,” she said.

chief2224
chief2224 on July 1, 2012 at 6:50 pm

I really hope the new owners of the Uptown Theater can bring it back to life. I went there a few times in the 80s, when I was in high school. It was a little rough but I didn’t mind…I wasn’t fond of the shiny, new CinemaSouth multiplex and once Newport Theater closed, the Uptown was the only “old school” theater left.

I know it’s probably naive to believe that an old, single screen theater can become successful in today’s market. But I believe that if the owners can offer a high quality experience that appeals to a niche audience, the Uptown can be successful. Going to the multiplex to see a movie is awful: long lines, big crowds, crying babies, unruly teens, people texting, etc. And we pay over $10 per ticket for that awful experience! If the Uptown can offer something different and better than that, people will come.

Having said that…I wonder what condition the theater is in? It’s been abandoned for close to 20 years. I imagine they’ll need to do a complete overhaul of the facility and that could be costly.

chief2224
chief2224 on July 1, 2012 at 6:56 pm

One other thing to note: I found the Vindicator story that Wolfgirl posted and in the comments section below the article, people complained about how unsafe the Market St. area has become. What’s funny about this is that, if you go to any of the big multiplexes on a Friday or Saturday night, there is always a heavy security and police presence to handle disturbances. I have witnessed many fights at multiplexes – in the theater, the lobby and out in the parking lot. Just because the multiplexes are located in the suburbs doesn’t make the movie going experience any safer.

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on February 10, 2015 at 7:04 am

Saddly here it is 2015, and the Uptown still stands empty. Sooner than later it will have to be demolished. Saddly the area that it is located in is drug infested and dangerous to travel in after dark, so even if it did reopen, it would not draw anough people to make it a viable enterprise. That was one of the reasons why the theater group that was using it left and now performs at one of the downtown theaters … there are 4 live theaters in the downtown area.

Jack Oberleitner
Jack Oberleitner on February 10, 2015 at 10:25 am

The Uptown was a gem of a theatre! It has been an important part of area theatre history. It’s among the last classic Y'town cinemas still standing. It hurts to think about how many great theatres in Y'town (Palace, State, Liberty/Paramount, Newport, etc., etc.) are gone and forgotten by many.

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on February 10, 2015 at 11:42 am

I agree Jack. Youngstown has more than it’s share of movies over the years, and the Mahoning Valley Historical Society is in the process of compiling a collection of them all. I never was in the Uptown so I don’t know what it was like, but I know that at one time the people who owned the Uptown also owned the Mahoning Theater just as the Cameo and State were early on coupled in the newspaper ads.

Was the Uptown a classic movie palace? I don’t think so when compared to the Warner or Palace, but for a neighborhood,it was above average.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 10, 2015 at 1:29 pm

Linkrot repair: The before-and-after photos of the remodeled facade of the Uptown on the cover of Boxoffice of May 1, 1967, can now be found at this link. The remodeling was done in 1966.

It seems likely that the original facade is still mostly intact behind that false front (which looks to be an anodized aluminum grill), as the grill extends out a couple of feet from the front of the building. Restored, it would add a touch of glamor to this fairly plain block.

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on April 22, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Even the Mahoning County Commissioners were forced to close the County Annex building that was near the Uptown because of the crime problem on Market Street.

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