Ontario Theater

1700 Columbia Road NW,
Washington, DC 20009

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Ontario Theater

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Ontario Theater was a neighborhood theatre in the midtown business section. It opened in 1951 and was originally operated by K-B Theatres as a first-run theatre. All seating was on a single floor.

It was remodeled and reopened by the Circle chain back in 1985. I vividly remember that it was a rather grand affair, with spotlights above the city, when the theater showed the 70mm presentation of “Lifeforce”.

The theater still smelled of paint on the walls and seats as my friends and I took in the then state-of-the-art Kintek sound system and large screen. I saw “The Color Purple” at that theater before it was abruptly shut down due to heavy losses. The theater had no parking and was not really close to a Metro station to fill it capacity.

It became a mom and pop retail shop, and was demolished in October 2013.

Contributed by Jo

Recent comments (view all 33 comments)

buckguy
buckguy on December 9, 2009 at 7:38 pm

The riots were in ‘68, not '68. The former lobby area is now for lease. The CVS drug store that occupies part of the structure will soon move across the street next to Safeway.

sconnell1
sconnell1 on December 9, 2009 at 8:08 pm

I think RichJ meant to say that the riots were in ‘68, not in '66, which rlvjr mentioned in his remarks on September 30, 2005.

Bloop
Bloop on March 29, 2011 at 8:39 pm

I was here once in 1982. My friends had an apartment down the block. This was a rough area in the 1980s! I hear it’s been gentrified. No surprise.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on May 30, 2011 at 3:37 pm

1984 exterior photo, when still showing movies, found on flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/kinorama/4377226720/

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan on May 30, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Upon closer examination of the picture and without being able to zoom at the marquee to determine the picture playing, I have to say that picture had to be taken in the late 70s. Maybe ‘76, '77..look at the Mustang and Monte Carlo..those designs take it back to the 70s. I see no 'newer’ models I can identify that would predate the other two.

I say this because one of my favorite 70s shows was Charlie’s Angels and in the opening one of the Angels is seen running from that era Mustang. The show ran in the mid-late 70s.

sconnell1
sconnell1 on June 20, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Hello Ontario Theater lovers

I made a mistake in my comment back in 2009. “Becket” and “Mary Poppins” were not shown at the Ontario on a reserve seat basis, even though they were shown that way in other theaters around the country.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 8, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Featured in this 1952 trade article: boxoffice

CaptDave2013
CaptDave2013 on May 21, 2013 at 10:15 pm

I was an usher at the Ontario (part time while on active duty in the Navy stationed at the Naval Photographic Center) and worked two films, “Becket” and “Mary Poppins”. The Premiere of “Poppins” was held here and I ushered that show, a fund raiser for Project Hope, and Miss Andrews and Producer Blake Edwards both attended. Julie was stone cold and Blake was more than distant. However, at that time she was having an unpublished affair with Edwards (they later married) and perhaps, her behavior was reserved. My recollection was that during the long run of these two movies, the Ontario WAS operating as a reserved seat theater on weekends. In those days (1964-65), the Ontario was a first-class operation and we ushers word red uniforms that made us look much like the famed Phillip Morris cigarette icon.

20015
20015 on October 24, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Demolition was completed this week 10/24/2013).

dickneeds111
dickneeds111 on March 6, 2014 at 4:05 pm

While in the Navy and also stationed at the Naval Photo Center in 1960-1962 and 1964-1966 and then again for only 2 weeks in around 1983 I visited the Ontario many times. Saw the 70mm Roadshow of Sound Of Musicthere. I did not work there but I did work P.T. nights at the Sears offices in Silver Springs and I also was one of the projectionists at The NAS Anacostia base theatre.

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