Willow Theatre

6504 Brecksville Road,
Independence, OH 44131

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Second Run for The Godfather

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened June 22, 1950 with William Bendix in “Kill the Umpire”. The Willow Theatre had one screen, with seating on the main floor in three sections (left, center, right). It also had a leather, large circular seating area between the lobby, concession stand and regualr seats which was used as the meeting place after the movie ended.

A special area upstairs for parents to take kids in case they cried was also installed which allowed patrons to still be able to see and hear the movie. It also had a payphone room built in to the structure with wood and glass doors so you could still see the movie while talking on the phone.

The theatre also used to use a color wheel projected on the screen before the shorts would start.

It was closed in 1977 following theatre seats being set on fire by vandals, which destroyed the theatre. The remains have since been demolished.

Contributed by Bryce Wilson

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

Toby on January 10, 2004 at 9:20 pm

The Willow closed in 1977 after a fire destroyed the theatre, which was caused by juveniles setting fire to the seats.

Norm Lindway
Norm Lindway on April 28, 2009 at 8:53 am

The willow was one of our theaters to show single features right after their downtown first run. The other theaters were Stillwell in Bedford, Berea and Vine in Willoughby. These theaters had three Saturday night showings with the last feature after 11 pm.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on December 24, 2010 at 11:18 am

Like 1968 picture much better.IT IS OPEN!!

TLSLOEWS on December 25, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Nice looking marquee on the Willow.

rivest266 on March 13, 2011 at 10:36 am

This opened on June 22nd, 1950. ad: View link

rivest266 on January 19, 2014 at 11:30 am

Grand opening ad in the photo section

Farbfilmfan on April 4, 2015 at 12:59 am

I grew up in the Brecksville-Broadview Heights area just to the south of Independence. The Willow was the nearest movie theater. There really wasn’t much of a built up town around the Willow so most all patrons arrived by car—especially those of us coming from neighboring suburbs. Parents would drop off kids and come back later to pick them up. If a parent was late for the pickup there was a period of time when kids were unsupervised and a certain amount of mischief went on. Mondays at school were filled with conversations about everyone’s weekend adventures at the Willow – popcorn fights, minor brawling, evading the ticket takers and ushers etc.

Farbfilmfan on April 4, 2015 at 1:45 pm

The name of the theatre, Willow, may have something to do with a stop or station on a 19th century Cleveland area railroad called the Cleveland Terminal and Valley Line (which in 1915 was absorbed by the B&O railroad) that ran from Cleveland alongside the Cuyahoga river and the Ohio and Erie Canal south to the Tuscarawas valley coal fields. A stop on the line near Newburgh Heights/Cuyahoga Heights was called “Willow Station.” When a T-shaped freeway system was planned by the City of Cleveland in 1927 to run along the lakeshore (upper crossarms of the T) with an extension south, (leg of the T), the southern leg was called the Willow Freeway. The freeway had a large cloverleaf style interchange with State Route 17 (Granger Road) near the Independence incorporation limits. This was Ohio’s first cloverleaf style interchange. It is at this cloverleaf, completed in October of 1940, where the freeway ended as a divided freeway and seamlessly joined the existing US Route 21 and continued on as such south the to center of Independence, right past the Willow theater, and further on to the center of Brecksville. This “Willow” freeway, when finally completed after WWII, provided 15/25 minute commuting times to downtown Cleveland and industrial flats jobs from Independence and Brecksville and favored the blossoming of these communities into bedroom suburbs. It was their lifeblood. More research is needed into how the area around the station got the name Willow.

BigPolishDog1951 on July 27, 2017 at 2:47 am

This was a nice theater, usually great selections, and a nice clientele….I believe that last movie I saw there was “The Revolutionary” with Duvall and Voight around 1970…I usually was on good behavior when I went there, my uncle wound up being the judge for Independence and 6 neighboring communities (Judge Kenneth R. Stralka, “The Hanging Judge”, especially family members before the bench)

AuWren on September 20, 2017 at 7:31 am

It’s hard to believe The Willow has been closed for 40 years. It’s harder to believe I saw THE GODFATHER for the first time 45 years ago this week!

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