Centre Theatre

10 E. North Avenue,
Baltimore, MD 21218

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Centre Theatre

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The Centre Theatre opened on February 2, 1939, and this was a really amazing theatre. It was part of a complex that included a studio theatre in addition to the main hall and the broadcasting center of WFBR radio. It was the first theatre in the city equipped for radio broadcasting in-house (other theatres had broadcast via remote before) and the first with the ability to project live television on the screen.

Movies ceased in 1959. Although the main auditorium was long ago converted to office space for the Equitable Bank (Itself now long swallowed by mergers), the beautiful lobby with “heroic nudes” (according to opening night literature) is more or less still there. The studio theatre is still there, although WFBR moved out a few years ago, and is being used as a storefront church (this section opens onto 20th Street). The exterior is in fine shape, the Moderne styling has not been changed at all and the marquee is still there.

In the 1930’s and 1940’s, North Avenue was considered the northernmost boundary of Baltimore, and development was spread along both sides of the street. Across the street from the Centre Theatre, is the Aurora Theatre, and a little to the west of the Aurora Theatre is the Parkway Theatre. The Centre Theatre was a Art Moderne style treat, and opened to great fanfare.

After closing the building remained in excellent condition, and while lettering had been removed, the old vertical tower still stands. In 2015 it reopened as a performing arts centre

Contributed by Charles Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

Michael21046 on January 13, 2005 at 3:48 pm

I believe you’re right. Before it closed it was the only film theatre in Baltimore that showed TODD-AO. It may have had the deep curved screen required then for TODD-AO features. When TODD-AO cut costs by switching to a more conventional flat screen the majority of the TODD-AO films were shown at the New. Incidentally, Oklahoma was the first TODD-AO film. It’s commonly mistaken that Around The WOrld In 80 Days was the first, because it took fuller advantage of TODD-AO’s assetts than Oklahoma. I’m betraying my age but I remember seeing “Around The WOrld” when I was 5 years. My brother bought the original souveneir book but guess who acquired it and lost it?

allanb on June 24, 2005 at 8:52 am

I remember the Centre as being a second-run theatre in the 50s. In the days of “art theatres,” showing foreign and specialized films, it became the Film Centre. I remember seeing Diabolique, Sabrina, and Walt Disney’s “true-life adventure” films, like The Living Desert, there. It continued to be called the Film Centre when TODD-AO was installed, and also had a reserved-seat run of Gigi in conventional 35mm. At some time after that, as previously stated, it was converted into a bank.

kencmcintyre on January 14, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Looking at the Google photo, it doesn’t appear that there is any effort being made to re-use this theater. There is a nice looking church next door, so that neighborhood can’t be that bad. Someone owns the building and is content to let it sit unused, I suppose.

durango48 on September 23, 2011 at 11:04 am

Lost Memory, Thank you so much for posting that excellent photograph of the Centre Theatre surrounded by great memories of the landscape, such as; the No. 13 streetcar (I remember so well). At this theater, I remember seeing “Around The World In 80 Days”, “Oklahoma” and one or two other great movies. I remember “The Shrike” (I missed it) was also screened there. One of my biggest fantasies is to travel back in time with a high-end camera and take multiple shots of each Baltimore theater (and it’s architectural surroundings).

agulick on October 31, 2011 at 7:18 am

Does anyone know who owns it now? I am going to school right down the street and i am interested in reactivating the space. Does the city own it?

Gamble on October 31, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Theres nothing inside. Its all offices now and is in terrible shape. The roof is collapsing and the whole place is full of mold. If it werent for Cinema Treasures you wouldnt even have known it used to be a theater.

randytheicon on January 17, 2015 at 5:05 pm

The Centre is nearing renovation and will be reopened as a performing arts center, with the help of the Maryland Institute College of Art (among others). Article from three years ago:


randytheicon on January 17, 2015 at 5:08 pm

More info: http://www.jubileebaltimore.org/projects/project-10-east-north-avenue/

DavidZornig on November 2, 2015 at 10:35 pm

6 images added, 1939, 1954 and current courtesy of Irving Vnay.

Also a March 2015 article about the reopening.


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