Knickerbocker Theatre

86 E. 8th Street,
Holland, MI 49423

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The Knickerbocker was built, along with much of the rest of the surrounding block, for Tieman Slagh, who wanted to bring vaudeville to Holland. His theater was named for a popular early 20th century New York City playhouse.

Construction began in 1910, after four earlier attempts by Slagh to get a construction permit were rebuffed by the city fathers.

Slagh himself was killed before the Knickerbocker Theatre opened—as he was putting lightbulbs in the marquee, he fell off a ladder and broke his neck.

A new owner was eventually found, and the theater opened in 1911 as a vaudeville house, though it soon began to screen movies as well.

Some years later, the Knickerbocker Theatre received a new name, the Holland Theatre, which it was known as for much of its time as a movie house.

In the 1960’s, the Holland Theatre received a well-meaning modernization, which covered up its Neo-Classical style facade and much of its interior decor.

In 1988, the theater was purchased by Hope College. Two years later, the theater received a renovation, including the removal of several rows of seats to make more legroom, an updated lobby, with a new concession stand and larger restrooms, new lighting, heating, air-conditioning, and projection and sound equipment. The old facade was uncovered and restored to its original appearance. At the time of the renovation, the theater’s original name was also brought back after decades.

The college uses the Knickerbocker Theatre for concerts, poetry readings, and live performances, as well as for screening art and foreign films.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 2, 2008 at 12:57 pm

This link will give you the schedule for the Knickerbocker Theater.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 16, 2009 at 8:09 pm

The Holland Theater is listed in the 1955 Film Daily with 819 seats.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 17, 2009 at 7:29 am

Here is a photo of this theater as the Holland Theater.

Patsy
Patsy on February 17, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Great photo and will forward it to a friend of mine whose daughter will be attending Hope College in Holland MI next Fall.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 17, 2009 at 6:59 pm

That’s the first photo that I’ve seen of this theater as the Holland. I would have thought that the Water Winter Wonderland site would have had a photo of the Holland but it doesn’t.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 16, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Here is a 2/6/54 ad from the Holland Evening Sentinel:
http://tinyurl.com/co5thj

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on May 8, 2009 at 7:01 pm

Here are two 1983 photos of the Holland Theater:

Photo1

Photo2

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 3, 2010 at 3:14 pm

I think Holland should be the primary name with Knickerbocker as an AKA.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on March 3, 2010 at 3:28 pm

It still says Knickerbocker on top of the building and on the marquee now.This naming thing is confusing since many theatres have have many names.AKA are good for people trying to look up a theatre by the name they know it as.

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