16 Elm Street,
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The Elm Theatre opened on September 25, 1916. The main floor featured continental seating, with the aisles confined to the sides of the auditorium. There was also a large balcony. A small but adequate stage was used for vaudeville in the theatre’s early years, but movies were a mainstay throughout its history.
The facade, of gray brick with concrete trim, featured the triumphal arch motif popular for theaters at the time, and the keystone of the arch was a carved stone Face of Mirth. A stained glass window in the arch lighted the mezzanine foyer.
The front was studded with electric lights, the most striking feature by night being a 28-foot tall tree set with green lights in the spring and red lights in fall to suggest the colors of the New England woodlands.
The Elm Theatre closed in 1952 and was demolished the same year. After many years as a parking lot, the theater’s site and adjacent lots are now occupied by the modern main branch of the Portland Public Library.
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