Allen Theatre

1407 Euclid Avenue,
Cleveland, OH 44115

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Allen Theatre (Cleveland) - Auditorium sidewalls

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Allen Theatre opened as a movie palace in April 1921 with Vera Gordon in “The Greatest Love”. It was designed by C. Howard Crane, and could seat around 3,000, making it Cleveland’s largest movie theatre at that time. For several decades, the Allen Theatre served as one of the grandest places in the city to see a motion picture, before falling into decline in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It was finally shuttered in 1968, and was only spared at the last minute from being bulldozed for a parking lot. Workers had already begun dismantling the interior when the word came to halt demolition.

In an effort to bring the Allen Theatre’s plight for preservation to the forefront of Clevelanders, the Playhouse Square Association (which was formed in 1970) reopened the Allen Theatre in 1971 for a concert by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra. For a year, a series of concerts and appearances by celebrities like Richard Harris and Lily Tomlin, were presented at the Allen Theatre.

As one of the components of Cleveland’s famed Playhouse Square, the Allen Theatre was fully restored to its 1920’s splendor. It original rather small stage house was demolished and a new stage house was built. It was now primarily used as a venue for touring Broadway shows and other live acts requiring a large stage.

However, in 2012, in what could be described as an act of sheer wanton vandalism, the auditorium was divided up into smaller auditoriums seating 514, 150 and 348. Sadly gone is the lavish Italian Renaissance style interior with its ‘heavenly’ ceiling mural and fine fixtures. Replaced by functional modern performance spaces.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 72 comments)

DonLewis
DonLewis on January 24, 2011 at 3:25 pm

From the late 1940s a postcard view of the Allen Theatre along with the Hanna and Lowe’s State Theatres.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on January 26, 2011 at 6:15 pm

The Loews Ohio is also in this photo,its marquee was just in front of the Loews State.This theatre did not have a vertical sign.

Hibi
Hibi on November 9, 2011 at 3:30 pm

I cant believe they are going to carve up this beautiful theater after spending so much money to restore it. Have they started this desecration yet? Horrible!

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on January 12, 2012 at 12:39 am

This webpage includes a photo (click upon it to enlarge it) which shows how the Allen’s auditorium has been remodeled (I would indeed say desecrated) to meet the needs of the Cleveland Playhouse:

http://www.clevescene.com/cleveland/euclid-shuffle/Content?oid=2724702

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on March 14, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Holy shit. That really is desecration.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on August 21, 2012 at 11:52 am

Divided up into smaller auditoriums- http://blog.cleveland.com/architecture/2012/08/renovated_allen_theatre_at_pla.html

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on August 21, 2012 at 2:36 pm

From the cited article: “An earlier renovation of the Allen in the 1990s by Playhouse Square preserved much of Crane’s design, but the organization decided this time around to sacrifice historic flavor in order to serve up the functionality desired by the Play House and CSU.

Bottom line: The new high-tech look at the Allen, which allows the original architecture to peek through here and there, was a fair price to pay for a theater that now works so well."

Appalling! Fortunately, from what I can see, much of the original look can be restored (which I hope it will be after a few money-losing seasons of the Cleveland Playhouse proves what boondoogle this was. I have lost all respect for the Playhouse Square Association.

slip
slip on December 15, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Hi rivest266, please email me at Thank you

rivest266
rivest266 on January 18, 2014 at 7:49 pm

Grand opening ad uploaded in the photo section.

DavidDymond
DavidDymond on January 18, 2014 at 9:26 pm

This theatre was owned and built for the theatre owning ALLEN family of TORONTO, Canada. Rapid over-expansion in the twenties caused the ALLEN THEATRES to go into receivership both in Canada and the United States. Their main competition in Canada, Famous Players Canadian Corporation squeezed them right out of business. The Allen family remained on as an operating partner of Famous Players right up until the mid-70’s!!!

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