Esquire Theatre

28 S. Champion Street,
Youngstown, OH 44503

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Originally opened as the Family Theatre, it became the Princess Theatre in February 1908. It seated 400 and was closed by 1930. It became a burlesque theatre known as the Grand Burlesque. It later operated as the Esquire Theatre showing foreign movies. It was demolished in the summer of 1950. The site is now a parking lot.

Contributed by Chris1982

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on February 8, 2015 at 6:12 am

I’m not absolutely certain, but through the mid 1930’s and into the late 1940’s this theater was known as the Grand Burlesque, and the owners bought the Park Theater that was undergoing bad times financially, and moved burlesque over there, it was at that point that the Esquire Theatre began operation. By the late 1950’s the Esquire was gone, and in its place was a parking lot.

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on February 9, 2015 at 7:44 am

As you can see from the photo section, this theater went through several name changes over the years.

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on February 9, 2015 at 7:57 am

Chris1982 I want to thank you for the theaters you contributed here, but we’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to the number of theaters that have come and gone over the years. The very first theater in Youngstown opened in the 1850’s long before movies, and it also closed once the Opera House was built in the late 1800’s so I don’t know if it would qualify for adding here. The first theater strangely enough would see another theater built on that site that we can and did include here, and it was the Liberty/Paramount Theater. The building that the first theater was in was torn down to build the Liberty/Paramount Theater.

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on February 9, 2015 at 2:58 pm

The correct address was 28 South Champion according to the 1909 Youngstown City Directory as furnished by the Youngstown Public Library from their City Directory and confirmed by the Mahoning Valley Historical Society from the same directory.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 23, 2015 at 10:16 pm

The September 27, 1934, issue of The Film Daily had a brief item saying that the Princess Theatre in Youngstown, which had been dark since spring, had been reopened by Stephen Grapa with a stage policy (I’m pretty sure the magazine misspelled the Italian surname, which was probably Grappa, or even di Grappa.)

The item also said that the manager of the Princess was named Ralph Pitzer. Interestingly, Ralph D. Pitzer was listed as the manager of the Princess Family Theatre at Youngstown in the 1913-1914 edition of the Cahn guide. The guide listed the house as a ground floor theater with 800 seats, 500 on the main floor and 300 in the balcony. It was then playing Gus Sun vaudeville shows exclusively.

The Princess began running the Sun shows in 1910, as the November 6 issue of Variety said that the remodeled house would reopen with Gus Sun vaudeville on November 14. A later Variety item datelined Youngstown, November 24, said that the Princess, booked by Gus Sun, and the Park, booked by another vaudeville office, Feiber & Shea, of New York, were both doing fine business.

The Princess had a very diverse history. I’ve found references to stock companies playing the house in 1915 and the early 1920s, as well as vaudeville, movies, and burlesque. The August 30, 1929, issue of the New Castle News ran an item touting the opening of the New Princess Theatre in Youngstown, “…all repaired, repainted. redecorated, renovated….” and featuring something called the “Billy Leich Teddy Bear Girls Company, The show with a kick….” The item also boasted of the house’s new “lighted runway,” so it was surely a burlesque operation at that time.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 23, 2015 at 10:29 pm

The Friday, February 7, 1908, issue of The Orrville Courier of Orriville, Ohio, had an item about the opening of the Princess Theatre:

“The Princess theater, Youngstown’s newest playhouse, opened its doors to the public Monday night. From the dazzling electric lights in the front of the theater to the last act of the interesting program the place and entertainment is attractive and pleasing. Pretty girl ushers are only one of the novelties.”
The Princess was opened by Proctor E. Seas, a former resident of Orrville.

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on March 12, 2015 at 7:52 pm

In its prime, as thw Princess Theatre, the management brough in such greats as Bob Hope; Jack Benny; Red Skelton and Eddie Cantor, but because it was such a small theater it couldn’t play off thes personalities, and a fire in the balcony all but sealed its fate. It was after a new management came in and remodled the theater that it was able to avoid being demolished, and it became the Grand until 1948 when the owners took over the Park Theatre and moved their shows over there. The theatre was renamed the Esquire, but by the early 1950’s the theatre became so delapadated that the city ordered it torn down in 1954.

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on March 26, 2015 at 6:57 am

Here is the link to the Youngstown Vindicator article about the opening of the Princess.

https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=IBxIAAAAIBAJ&sjid=4YAMAAAAIBAJ&pg=1238%2C5339181

When it opened, it had 430 seats.

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on March 26, 2015 at 9:39 am

Can some kind soul please come to my aid with a wee bit of information?

A Vindicator article on the Esquire said that Jack Benny and Bob Hope during their vaudville days played the Princess. Can any of you kind souls supply me with any information on when they were here. I know that Red Skelton played the Princess but need a date for him also.

Your help would be welcome, and I’ll be thankin' you in advance.

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on March 26, 2015 at 10:03 am

See photo section for this theatre for more info on my request for help.

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