Centre Theatre

10 E. North Avenue,
Baltimore, MD 21202

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Centre Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

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

Though 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 theater 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 is the Parkway Theatre. The Centre Theatre was a Art Moderne style treat, and opened to great fanfare.

The building is still in excellent condition, and while lettering had been removed, the old vertical tower still stands. The entrance has long been sealed.

Contributed by Charles Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

phillehman
phillehman on December 15, 2004 at 8:36 pm

I would like to see if anyone can answer this question: I think I remember seeing OKLAHOMA in 1957 at the Centre Theater when it was released in 1957 in the Todd-AO process. I think I also remember seeing AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS there in 1956 and that was the first film in the Todd-AO process. I think that the Centre was the only theater equipped to show Todd-AO format films in those early days of the process.
Any comments?

Michael21046
Michael21046 on January 13, 2005 at 11:48 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
allanb on June 24, 2005 at 4:52 pm

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
kencmcintyre on January 15, 2009 at 4:15 am

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
durango48 on September 23, 2011 at 7:04 pm

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
agulick on October 31, 2011 at 2:18 pm

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
Gamble on October 31, 2011 at 8:24 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.

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