Urbana Cinema 2

216 S. Main Street,
Urbana, OH 43078

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Restoration of the former Gloria theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

I grew up in the Gloria Theatre in Urbana, Ohio. My father, Jack Frazee, was the manager of this beautiful movie house for many years.

The theatre was built by Warren Grimes, the owner of Urbana-based Grimes Manufacturing Company. It was named for Mr. Grimes' daughter, Gloria. It has always been operated, to my knowledge, as a Chakeres theatre.

The building reflected the architecture of the 1940’s, with rounded corners, indirect lighting, and sweeping, Art-Deco style lines. It had an outer lobby and a huge inner lobby, in which new automobiles were often displayed. The auditorium was quite large for a small-town theater. It probably contained about 600 seats. There was no balcony.

A unique feature of the Gloria Theatre was “Grimes Booth.” This was a private viewing room on the second floor of the theatre that was reserved for the Grimes family.

The Gloria Theatre was twined around 1968 and renamed the Urbana Cinemas. It is still in operation as a Chakeres theatre. It was ‘temporarily closed’ for renovations in April 2010.

Contributed by Roger Frazee, Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

Jack Oberleitner
Jack Oberleitner on August 14, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Well actually the marquee looks better (pretty cool actually) in person.
What to me is amazing is that a comparatively small town like Urbana, Ohio still has an operating movie theatre. The Urbana Twin has a very classy lobby with crystal chandeliers. I still like driving through a small town and find an OPEN theatre that is still close to the way it was in past years. If the predictions of people like Mark Lipsky (CT news item for Saturday 8/14/10) are correct, in short order there won’t be many theatres for us to see anywhere except our memories.

Jack Oberleitner
Jack Oberleitner on August 14, 2010 at 11:07 pm

Thanks Chuck!
I’ll see if I can locate a night shot.

soybean on August 15, 2010 at 7:40 am

According to the Chakeres Theaters website, this theater is closed.

Jack Oberleitner
Jack Oberleitner on August 15, 2010 at 10:19 am

According to Philip Chakeres, President, the theatre is closed while some exterior repairs are being undertaken, new seats are being installed, etc.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on August 15, 2010 at 5:32 pm

really what I meant was new Marquee letters.

MiamiMan on September 13, 2012 at 1:51 pm


a view of the Gloria as it appeared at its opening on Christmas day 1941.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 14, 2012 at 6:10 pm

The side walls of the Urbana Cinema look much older than its 1941 build date. A number of sources indicate that the Gloria Theatre was on the site of an earlier house called the Clifford Theatre, which burned. A couple of sources say that the Gloria was rebuilt from the Clifford.

Judging from the apparent age of the side walls, at least parts of the Clifford must have survived the fire to be incorporated in the new structure, though the Clifford was a larger theater than the Gloria. The Cahn guide of 1910 said that the house seated 1,200, and its stage was 35 feet from footlights to back wall and 80 feet between its side walls. The proscenium was 40 feet wide and 30 feet high. The modern theater doesn’t appear to have a stage house at all.

This web page has a photo of the historical marker commemorating the Clifford Theatre. I’ve been unable to find any period photos of the outside of the Clifford Theatre, which opened in 1905, but a 1911 picture of the auditorium appears on page 2 of the May, 2008, issue of the Champaign County Historical Society’s newsletter, available in PDF format at this link.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 1, 2013 at 6:35 pm

The article RidgewoodKen linked to says that the theater was built “…in the early 1900s….” and notes that local resident John Carmazzi remembers going to the theater in 1939, the year before Warren Grimes bought the house and renamed it after his daughter.

Another article about the closing of the Urbana Cinema notes its connection to the Clifford Theatre, saying this: “In September of 1940, Urbana aviation lighting pioneer and industrialist Warren Grimes bought the building and tore out the decayed parts, remodeling the old structure into a premier motion picture house for Champaign countians.”

Mr. Carmazzi’s memory indicates that the Clifford Theatre was still operating (though he doesn’t mention the name) in the late 1930s. As I noted earlier, it’s pretty clear from the look of the building that it incorporates at least the side walls of the Clifford Theatre, built in 1905.

rivest266 on January 26, 2014 at 1:54 pm

This is now closed.

graceways on August 8, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Facebook page: Remembering the Urbana Cinema / Gloria Theatre


Facebook page of the nonprofit group working to restore the theatre: https://www.facebook.com/grandworksorg

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