Olympia Theatre

3353 E. 55th Street,
Cleveland, OH 44127

Unfavorite 2 people favorited this theater

Showing 16 comments

BigPolishDog1951 on July 27, 2017 at 6:37 am

I had an aunt,uncle etc. who lived farther up, off 55th, and my mother wound up buying a Black w/Red Interior 62 Dodge Dart convertible from Grabski not too far from the Olympia….I can remember seeing “The Bridge on the River Kwai” and hated it as a youngster, as a pre-teen, Marshall Thompson in “A Yank In Vietnam”, and as a teenager, Sean Connery in “The Hill”, it was almost a ‘ghost town’ atmosphere by that time….but, I never felt uncomfortable, in risk, and always seemed safe waiting for my ride home….My maternal family had a lot of roots in that neighborhood, going back to the woolen mills days before the Depression….My cousins both attended South High, and I was always impressed by the Catholic High School,Our Lady of Lourdes….“Kid Leo”(formerly of WMMS, now of Sirius radio) is an alumnus..I went to see bands perform in that auditorium…My father got re-married at the Polish National Catholic Church across the street from South High and that bakery ….oh, and a maternal great uncle was the custodian of the Union of Poles social hall on Broadway…cheers y'all

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 20, 2013 at 2:57 pm

A page from the Cleveland Landmarks Commission about builder and architect George Allen Grieble lists the Olympia Theatre as one of his projects, dated 1913. It also lists a Gordon Square Theatre (apparently not yet listed at Cinema Treasures) as a 1911 project.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 13, 2012 at 8:45 am

The Olympia Theatre was in operation prior to January 19, 1916, on which date a telegram from its operator, W. H. Miller, was entered into the records of a hearing being held by the Federal Motion Picture Commission. It was one of many telegrams sent by Cleveland theater operators to express opposition to a proposed Federal censorship law.

jmt on July 23, 2009 at 10:11 pm

Ray, I worked at the Olympia theater when you were the manager. I was in high school at the time. I worked the box office. My name is Jeannie. Do you remember? I have great memories of that theater. I haven’t seen it in years. Is that building being used at all?

Toby on April 1, 2008 at 9:55 am

I also recall that the Olympia Theater, several months after it closed to mainstream movies, operated briefly in mid-1981 as a porn house. However, there was vocal community opposition in the Broadway area, where people from the Broadway/East 55th neighborhood was picketing the theater, and the porn movies lasted for only a few months as a result. Also, shortly before the Olympia closed for good, someone crashed a pickup truck into the lobby…obviously someone unhappy with the porn that the Olympia was showing at the time. The Olympia closed for good after that.

frodosbudy on June 15, 2007 at 10:31 pm

Yep Ray, got that right. It was Barkwell Elementary! I went to Willow before transfering to Mound, lol. Seems like decades ago, lol. Heck, it was! LOL

raydeas on July 18, 2006 at 8:29 pm

Seems to me there was a very old school building right on Dolloff, maybe at Barkwell. Dolloff is just a half block away from the Olympia.

bobwhite on July 18, 2006 at 8:16 pm

No…I was not a thought during those years as I came into being in ‘38. My mom was 30 when she had me. She was telling me she went to Rice business college in that area somewhere, she did not know the street..they lived on Steinway for awhile..the candy store was near Dolloff & broadway I believe according to her story..they sold it at some point and her father got a job as a machinist. She went to a catholic school as a young girl until she got her knuckles rapped with a ruler for relaxing them from a prayer position..her father took her out soon after…and went to public school. Any idea what public school was in that area of the city (elementary)?

raydeas on July 18, 2006 at 8:00 pm

When I ran the Olympia, from ‘74-'78, there was a TV repair shop next door. As I recall, during our renovation of the lobby, we uncovered a door into that store-front, which I believe to have once been “Olympia Candies”. The candy store was still making candy during those years a block or so down and across Broadway. See if that jibes with your mom’s recollections. Have you no memories of those years? Thanks

bobwhite on July 18, 2006 at 6:43 pm

Today, I spoke to my mom who with her father owned a candie store at 55th & broadway..she has a memory like many who have written in to this site, except she is 98 years young..and when you ask her something from the 1900 teens, she sits for 30 seconds and then never shuts up…she remembers I would guess everything plus.
She met my father at a dance and they were married in 1930..now that i see this site about the theatre, which she mentioned today among other things from the ‘old days’, i will ask her about anything special she remembers about it…I will gladly pass along her remarks.

raydeas on April 9, 2006 at 3:44 pm

may have info on Olympia.

darkriderz on April 9, 2006 at 3:08 pm

Haunting memories!! 1950s till my last movie munster go home late 1960s double features 35cent admission 25cent butter popcorn 10cent pop machine when i thougt i was rich. hiding under the seats during horror movies;candy all over the floor; 3d glasses;; scary upstairs when i was a child; Who was the mean lady manager that kept everyone in line?
Hercules was my hero; jocelyn smith from the elvis movie Tickle Me was my first love Anybody have olympia memoribilia? So much more to write

raydeas on April 4, 2006 at 6:03 pm

Who’s writing about my theater! I’d like to know more! I know it was a pretty fancy organ. We found remnants, and the open bass pipes were still mounted on the back wall. Talk to me!

raydeas on April 3, 2006 at 7:56 pm

Can I “Double-Dip”? I don’t see how to edit once I hit “preview”!
I wanted to say what a fine job George Clooney’s Company did restoring the marquee and fixing the place up after making “Welcome to Collinwood”. When this site will accept photos, I’ll send some, including one from 1914 so you can see how nicely they duplicated the original marquee (too bad there’s not really a theater there!).When I was there in the 70’s, the sheetmetal-with-neons marquee, probably added mid century hung right out to the curb and was constantly being damaged by trucks. It came down after the theater closed and the front of the building was flat til they made the movie and left the nicely restored canopy.

raydeas on April 3, 2006 at 7:45 pm

Thanks for the glowing compliment, “frodosbudy”! Maybe you remember me. My name is Ray and I ran the Olympia from ‘74 to '78! Two friends and I went in there with less than $4000 and cleaned and fixed that place up (It had been boarded up a couple years) and reopened in May '74 with “Jesus Christ Superstar”. I personally pulled the curtains open, and I’ll never forget the feeling that came over me with the cheering of those neighborhood kids when that light hit the screen after having been dark so long!
The Olympia opened in l911 as a Vaudeville/movie house. Older neighbors recalled live orchestras on the weekends and the organ playing during the week. The stage was five stories high-enough to accommodate the fire curtain which rose straight up behind the tall arched proscenium. We had 850 seats on the main floor, some having been removed, and only used a few of the 225 on the balcony for “private parties”, (if you know what I mean). There was a huge (6’ dia.) squirrel cage fan backstage that put the nicest breeze out over the audience. Five dressing rooms, too. We ran it as a $1:00 theater, open only on weekends as second-sub-run. We’d open all week for some special features, like “Jaws”. I would play Ravel’s “Bolero” leading up to the show-the projectionist knew exactly when to start it so the from backstage we would dim the lights and open the curtains as the music came to its closing crescendo. Oh, how I miss it! And seeing the building (there’s 20 apartments and seven store fronts remaining)in “Welcome to Collinwood” still chokes me up.

frodosbudy on April 23, 2005 at 3:36 am

I have some very fond memories of the Olympia theater. Walking with friends, a dollar in hand, lining up outside for tickets. All the excited chatter about the movie and the smell of popcorn of course. The Towering Inferno was one I particularly remember, all my friends were there. I go past once in a while (having moved to the west side) and the doors always make me think about those days. We had lots of safe fun for only a couple of bucks. I miss it very much…