Roosevelt Theatre

425 Central Avenue,
Cincinnati, OH 45202

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The Roosevelt Theatre was open during the mid-1920’s with seating listed at 956. During it’s life it was owned and operated by Mr. Jack D. Goldman. The theatre closed in the mid-1950’s and has since been demolished. An office building was built on the site of the theatre.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 4, 2009 at 12:14 am

The Roosevelt was apparently still operating as late as 1957, when the August 10 issue of Boxoffice listed it as one of the theaters in the Cincinnati area playing “The Ten Commandments” in that movie’s first post-roadshow engagements.

The earliest mentions of the Roosevelt I can find are from various 1929 issues of Movie Age when it was among the theaters listed in a series of ads for Photophone sound equipment.

A January 17, 1953, Boxoffice roundup of the previous year’s events in Cincinnati reveals the likely opening year of the Roosevelt to have been 1922. It reports this among the events for March, 1952: “Improper nailing when the ceiling was installed thirty years ago was blamed for the collapse of the plaster-covered metal ceiling lath at the Roosevelt Theatre, which injured about 60 patrons, none seriously. Jack Goldman, owner, estimated damage at about $2,500.”

Jack Goldman is mentioned frequently in Boxoffice. He’s mentioned as the operator of the Roosevelt in 1937, at which time he took over the Lincoln Theatre. The June 29, 1940, issue refers to him as “…owner of the Lincoln, Roosevelt and Beecher, all colored houses in Cincinnati….” The October 27, 1945, issue says that Goldman’s son-in-law, Joseph Miller “…is handling the Jack Goldman chain of colored houses while Goldman is taking a rest following illness.”

The February 9, 1946, issue of Boxoffice has an item datelined Cincinnati which refers to Goldman as “…operator of four colored theatres here….” It doesn’t give the names of the theaters, but the July 9, 1949, issue says that “Jack Goldman, who operates the Roosevelt, Lincoln and Regal theatres here has taken over the Roxy at Lockland, Ohio.” Apparently by then he had closed or sold the Beecher.

A May 21, 1965, Boxoffice item names Goldman as the operator of the Regal Theatre in Cincinnati, and says that he had been in the theater business for 27 years. I’ve found no mentions of him after that.

hanksykes on July 20, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Joe ,Probably by 1949 Mr. Goldman had also taken over The Metropolitn Th. of 1915(which he renamed (The State). It was just two blocks from his Regal Th.(which was built as (The Casino in 1913)adding it to his monopoly of black theaters. His son and grandson continued in the film business and that grandson Gary is still active in Movie operations in the Cincinnati area even to this late date.

hanksykes on November 19, 2010 at 4:48 pm

The Roosevelt Th. was built upon the footprint of an earlier legitimate theatre called,“ The Lyceum”, which was sited at(427) Central Avenue.Today of course this site is part of Interstate 75.

hanksykes on November 24, 2010 at 3:36 pm

The footprint of the Roosevelt had quite a few transformations in earlier days,firstly as a Methodist Church pre 1840’s called Morris Chapel,then converted to Thoms Music Hall,later as The Havlin Th. in the l883’s for a negrow audience, again Edward Hart ran it in 1900 as The Lyceum,and finally designed as The Roosevelt by Henry N. Hooper and built by the Frank W. Folz Company

hanksykes on November 30, 2010 at 6:26 pm

The Havlin Th. was also called the Star at some point in its lifespan. Our Lyceum was condemed after a city inspection, conducted soon after a famous theater roof collapsed in Washington,D.C. caused by a vast snow accumulation.

hanksykes on January 31, 2011 at 2:24 pm

That theater with the tragic roof collapse was the Knickerbocker Th. in Washington,D.C. in 1922 January 28th after a heavy snowstorm. 98 people were killed and over 100 were injured.

dallasmovietheaters on February 25, 2016 at 12:23 pm

One of the city’s most long-standing entertainment addresses was ended when the State Highway Department paid $125,000 in 1960 for the expressway project that became Interstate 75. The Roosevelt Theatre was in business throughout 1959 but the West End neighborhood was vanishing around it. As buildings were being razed in 1958 decimating the African American retail district, patrons panicked at the still-functioning Roosevelt fearing the building was going to collapse.

The panic was due in part to the theater’s reputation A Feb. 20, 1952 roof collapse led to multiple lawsuits when about 60 of 250 patrons watching “A Girl In Every Port ” were struck.

The building sat at 423-425-427 Central Avenue which also housed the Central Avenue Cafe. But the Lincoln and its demolished predecessor together date back to the late 1830s when the first building was constructed as the Morris Chapel. The city’s first Lyceum Theatre opened at Sixth and Vine on December 3, 1852. The Lyceum appears to team up with Morris Chapel becoming Morris Chapel Lyceum from 1868-1870.

J.C. Thoms bought the chapel turning into Thoms' Hall / Thoms' Music Hall. In November 1883, it was sold to John H. Havlin Theatre who calls it Havlin’s Theatre. New ownership at the turn of the Century led to the name change back to the Lyceum nameplate opening August 19, 1900.

On September 23, 1917, the Lyceum became an African American theater showing “The Smart Set.” It was under John Bruner’s management beinning in 1919. When cities around the nation reacted to the horrific Knickerbocker tragedy in D.C. with its collapse, Cincinati inspectors notified property owner Mary R. Thoms and Bruner that they were shuttering the Lyceum Feburary 12, 1922. It was razed in October of that year and rebuilt by Frank W. Folk & Co. for a new building for Bruner, the Lincoln Theatre opening in 1923.

In addition to films, live jazz and blues was heard at the Roosevelt. Louis Armstrong and his orchestra played there Nov 16 1931, Bessie Smith performed multiple times, and Ethel Waters performed there May 7, 1926.

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