Civic Theatre

477 Congress Street,
Portland, ME 04102

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rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 15, 2008 at 1:27 pm

The Keith’s Theatre (later the Civic) opened on Jan. 27, 1908 with 1,355 seats and was designed by Albert E. Westover, according to info at Theatre Historical Society of America

kencmcintyre on September 20, 2007 at 8:33 am

Here is a 1949 ad from the Portland Sunday Telegram:

dp53 on May 13, 2005 at 4:12 pm

Although the Civic Theater itself was torn down, the the Civic Arcade, which served as the lobby to what the Casco Bank Building and an entrance-way to the theater, is about to be restored to its original design. In the 50s-60s, the arcade had two banks, a coffee shop, a Class-D post-office-stamp collector’s shop, a religious articles store, a radio station (WPOR) a pet store (The Dog House), a visiting Santa and Sleigh during the Christmas season, and a maze of music studios on the level below. It also had a flooring and carpet shop and when the Civic was closed in ‘63, the Civic became a storage site for rolls of linoleum and carpeting for the shop.

One thing though, I’ve always been puzzled by the design of the building, the theater, and its relation to the original Keith’s. In the earliest postcards I’ve seen entrances to Keiths NEXT to the Longfellow house on Congress Street, where Days Jewelry store later was. The second entrance was on Preble St and served as a secondary entrance to the theater and the arcade.

It was a great old theater though – I went there lots of times when I was a kid.

teecee on April 15, 2005 at 2:15 pm

old photo & history:
View link

justmaine on March 31, 2005 at 7:50 pm

P.S. The Katz posting, on April 1, 2004, is mistaken. The Merrill Auditorium—formerly called City Hall Auditorium, is behind City Hall, at 389 Congress St.

justmaine on March 31, 2005 at 7:45 pm

This theater was torn down in the early 1960’s, and replaced with a multi-storey parking lot. It was owned, at the time, by Casco Bank. Its President, Halsey Smith, had commissioned architects to prepare a plan to refurbish it, and the bank committed to spending about $250,000 to do the work. They sought a group who would commit to take it over, and be responsible for any operating losses. At the time—before the rise of awareness in the value of preservation—no one was interested, so the bank retreated, and had it torn down. Consultants from Actors' Equity in New York, said it had acoustics that could not be replicated. It was a real tragedy. It was beautifully decorated with plaster cherubs and intricate deatils.
Remnants of the decoration can still be seen in the surviving Preble Street entrance. Dick Paulson, March 31, 2005

deleted user
[Deleted] on April 2, 2004 at 7:59 am

477 congress st is where the keiths theatre was it became the civic
theatre years later. it was torn down years ago.that is called the village green there are some shops and a coffee shop.the portland symphony orchestra has a office there in the village green. but there
concerts are in the merrill auditorium that was called city hall
auditorium it was restored a nember of years ago its now a very nice place to see a show or concerts and sometime plays.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on April 1, 2004 at 7:52 pm

477 Congress Street is Merrill Auditorium, formerly the City Hall Auditorium, opened in 1912 as part of the city hall complex. It seats 1900 people. I don’t think that this is the building pictured in the postcard on this page, and I’m not sure it is the building described either.

deleted user
[Deleted] on March 24, 2004 at 1:33 pm

i live near portland maine i have been told that the civic theatre has been torn down years ago. in its place there is a large parking garage.
mike m.

William on November 21, 2003 at 11:12 am

The Civic Theatre is located at 477 Congress Street and it seated 1355 people as of 1955.

unknown on October 14, 2003 at 9:30 pm

It’d be great if your site would list the owners of the theatres, if possible. I’d like to find out who owns this closed theatre in Maine to see if they want to sell it. Another good part of your website could be devoted to theatres for sale!

Great site…..