2781 Euclid Heights Boulevard,
2781 Euclid Heights Boulevard,Cleveland Heights, OH 44106
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Best known for a major obscenity case when local officials shut down the Heights Art Theatre for showing the film, “The Lovers" on November 13, 1959. Theater manager Nico Jacobellis showed the French film, landed himself in jail, and his case gravitated on appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964) overturned the Cleveland Heights' suspect enforcement and was one of several cases that led to major changes in obscenity law enforcement in the United States. The case indirectly led to the rise of the porno chic era of motion picture exhibition.
Now serves as City Church on Sundays. Website & Facebook page below.
The main floor was converted to a dance club and re-opened in February, 2013, as the “Club Centrum”. It closed later that year in September.
I was at the Centrum again on March 27th as part of a improv comedy workshop for a few hrs. I performed on the stage and afterwards I took a peak behind the curtain and the screen is definately still there lol.
I was at the Centrum last night to see the Cleveland improv comedy troupe Something Dada perform. For those wondering, The theater looks exactly the same inside as when it closed, so nothing was changed. The group performed in front of the screen(curtains were closed so I couldn’t see it) on the stage area.
An article about the comedy club’s opening with a picture of the auditorium: View link
this theater has been renovated and is re-opening as Big Dog Theater on Feb 19, 2011. It is now going to showcase sketch, improv, and standup comedy in the Cleveland area. It is also to be a training facility studio for comedians to take classes and workshops. They even give you the option to rent the auditorium out, so I guess you can still view movies here (but probably just privately) since the theater itself is still intact (you can see pics of it on the website, which I have listed below. Check out the site, for it has more info than I posted).
This originally was the Heights theatre and ran as the “Heights Art Theatre” showing foreign films and independent films during the 50s-70s. They co-booked with the Westwood Arts Theatre in Lakewood and, for awhile with the Continental theatre in East Cleveland. They also did midnight movies and showed porn during the day and at midnight. I recall seeing films as diverse as “King of Hearts” and “Behind the Green Door” there. Mitchell’s Candies, which was next door, still operated a a couple blocks down from the Cedar-Lee.
This was in the Lincoln (NE) Evening Journal, dated 11/16/59:
Cleveland (AP) â€" Police in suburban Cleveland Heights halted the showing of the French movie, “The Lovers” and arrested the theater manager on a charge of exhibiting an obscene film. The theater was closed and the film was confiscated for evidence against Nico Jacobellis, the manager of the Heights Art Theater. 400 patrons who paid $1.50 each were escorted out and received refunds.
A 1941 picture of the theater as the Heights:
Here are photos from 1982 and 2005:
The downstairs of the Centrum is now a Johnny Malloy’s sports bar that uses one of the screens as a big-screen TV.
Part of the former Heights Art Theatre/Centrum recently reopened as the “Ground Floor Comedy Club”, which features a resident players group, visiting comedians, and a “B-movie” night, according to their first advertisement. The comedy club occupies the former balcony of the theatre. I think a sports bar is still planned for the downstairs of the theatre building.
The Centrum, I read recently, may be turned into a sports bar, in which the two downstairs screens would be kept, and converted to show sporting events (and possibly movies) via projection video equipment. Whether that comes to pass remains to be seen.
It was sad when they closed this theater becasue it was one of the last older theaters that looked great. Cedar Lee is very dumpy but survives because there are more screens and more parking then the Centrum had to offer. It was a much nicer theater and it died because they stopped playing independent films and moved to mainstream movies. For God sakes, it is sad that one of the last movies to play here was Gigli. Gigli bombed everywhere, it wasen’t going to attract customers into the smaller Centrum. It would be nice if the Centrum came back the way it is suppose to be, as an Independent theater.
I’m proud to say that I was an employee and manager at the Centrum while it was owned by Landmark Theatre Corporation (‘94-'97).
It was indeed a beautiful theater and a great place to see a film but several factors spelt its doom. As mentioned above, we were competing directly with the Cedar Lee which had a far more generous ticket pricing scheme (for the art films) and against the other large chains and their advertising budgets (for the mainstream films). Parking was also an issue in the Coventry area: street parking could be tricky since the regulations changed based on the time of day which lead to more than one customer (and a local film critic) having their cars towed! There was a good-sized parking lot down the street, but it was… well… down the steet!
Also, there was a space above the lobby that the landlord, in his outstanding wisdom, filled with a sports bar! Their customers had to use our upstairs restrooms and had access to one of our theaters. Trying to keep the rowdy drunks out of the theater and keeping the restrooms clean was a losing battle. If a small retailer moved in instead, it would’ve been a different story.
Lots of fond memories though… like the topiary and robotics display we had for the opening of “Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control”, the Indian food buffet for “Kama Sutra”, the oh-so-frequent power outages, the adjacent Chinese resteraunt setting off the fire alarms at least once a week (I was on first call, of course!), Quentin Crisp’s visit for “Orlando”, our “Meter Feeding” program to try to keep our customers from getting parking tickets when they parked at 1-hr meters, the quizzical looks from customers when they see the shakers of brewer’s yeast on the counter… good times.
I was in Cleveland form 1989-1995 and saw several movies at the Centrum. It was a most unusual architectural transformation from one to three screens. Saw “Sirens” there with Elle McPherson in 1994. Sorry to hear it’s gone down the tube at last.
The Centrum originally opened as the Heights Theatre back in the 1920’s?. From the 1950’s to the early 1980’s, the theatre was known as the Heights Art Theatre, first showing art and foreign films, then from the late 1960’s to the early 1980’s, had shown XXX-rated porn films. The theatre was renamed the “Coventry Cinema” and again brought back art films, then mainstream Hollywood fare (the nearby Cedar Lee was this theatre’s main competition when it came to art films.) The Coventry Cinema closed around 1985, then the theatre was completely gutted and restored, with three screens added. The theatre then was renamed the “Centrum”, and was first independently owned, then was part of the Landmark chain. Then after a few years, Landmark closed the Centrum, and the theatre remained closed for over a year (one plan was to put a “Cinema Grill” on the site, but those plans fell through.) Madstone reopened the Centrum a couple of years ago, with art and independent film, but again, as with previous attempts to keep this theatre going, competition with the Cedar Lee for the same type of films and the lack of nearby parking, forced the Centrum to close again. In its final weeks, the Centrum resorted to playing films that had played the Cedar Lee earlier, or mainstream Hollywood fare that also was playing at the nearby Regal Cinemas Severance or Shaker Square.
Sad to report that the Madstone Centrum closed its doors on October 1, 2003.