Livingston Theatre

1567 East Livingston Avenue,
Columbus, OH 43205

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Showing 1 - 25 of 36 comments

Mark_L
Mark_L on April 7, 2014 at 11:09 am

The theatre became the GAYETY for the first time on 7/9/65.

I’m very sad that the theatre is in such bad shape. I was hoping that I could get inside one more time before it goes away.

meheuck
meheuck on March 25, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Well, if it does come down, I hope someone saves all that beautiful glass block, recycles it in another building. Dammit.

GAYWHORE111
GAYWHORE111 on January 22, 2014 at 3:12 pm

In 2011;the new occupants of the bathhouse portion (H2O Spa) along with community leaders created a non-profit (Livingston Theater Association) to raise money to restore and preserve the building. Several fund raisers were held; the last of which was in November 2012. Unfortunately; the new owner of the building pocketed all of the revenue from the events and left the organization with all of the debts. The owner is on trial for unrelated criminal activity and the building is currently in foreclosure by the Franklin County Treasurer for unpaid taxes. Unfortunately, the deteriorating condition of the building will only certainly assure that the building is condemned and torn down. H2O moved due to a roof collapse and severe water damage in the building after City engineers deemed it unsafe.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 23, 2013 at 7:55 am

What organization is trying to restore it, and what sort of entertainment do they plan to have?

Keith
Keith on January 23, 2013 at 7:13 am

Nov 10 2012 a show what held at the theater to help raise funds to restore it. Good to hear.

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on November 18, 2012 at 10:59 am

If anyone has any stories about going to/ working at this threatre in its adult days, I would love to hear them. I am chronicling the histories of adult theatres in the US. Please contact me at Thanks!

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on August 31, 2012 at 1:25 am

Does it still look like a movie or stage theatre inside, with the original raked seating? What sort of events will it host once it is restored?

Flash_C
Flash_C on August 31, 2012 at 1:07 am

To be fair I should elaborate, Flex is still in business, just not in Columbus any longer. They do operate a facility in Cleveland.

Flash_C
Flash_C on August 31, 2012 at 1:05 am

Ownership of The Livingston Theater has once again changed hands and is in the process of holding events that will go towards the restoration of it. As the last post suggested it is indeed true that the Flex bathhouse did in fact close. The other end of the building adjacent to the theater is a bathhouse currently, called H2O Spa, however The Livingston Theater is a separate establishment. Various events will be held at the theater and it is available to be rented for those looking for a large capacity facility in order to hold events. It hosts a huge stage area as well as a balcony area.

Mark_L
Mark_L on November 26, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Property was taken over in 2/11 by a local man who owns a variety of properties. He now owns the entire block that houses the Livingston and the parking lot west of the building. I can’t find any recent occupant, and I did find a site confirming that Flex Baths had closed.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on November 26, 2011 at 5:27 pm

This location is no longer listed at flexbaths.com . Is it still open as a gym or has it been converted to a different use now?

John3570
John3570 on March 24, 2011 at 11:34 am

Mark your absolutely right. Joe Shade operated it when it re-opened in ‘73. He had real problems as he was a pharmacist and had no theater experience. When Carl & I took over the previous owners main complaint was that he couldn’t make any money in he concession stand. Come to find out, when the stand needed candy he let then come over to the drug store and get what ever they needed from the back room with no supervision. Needless to say we initiated an inventory, watched the stand, and made money. The double feature policy is what killed us. We ran all of the black product and all of the ‘kung-fu’ pictures we could find and ran ourselves out of product.

Mark_L
Mark_L on March 23, 2011 at 2:57 pm

The Livingston reopened on July 6, 1973, showing THE MACK with Max Julien, Don Gordon and Richard Pryor, and BLACK GIRL with Leslie Uggams and Brock Peters (“She’s got to cut it…or cut out.”)

The last ad I could find for the theatre was August 4, 1974, showing TRUCK TURNER with Isaac Hayes and SCREAMING TIGER.

Marty Hart’s WIDESCREEN MUSEUM site has a page on the Scanoscope process. It includes a film-clip that would be rated PG-13.

View link

John3570
John3570 on March 17, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Sorry, the film process was called ScanOscope-35 (Panoscope was a typo) – John Williamson

John3570
John3570 on March 14, 2011 at 1:42 pm

A projectonist named Carl Leigh and I (John Williamson) were the last folks to operate the Livingston in 1974. We ran black and action product (“The Mack”, “Coffee”, “Big Bad Momma”) exclusively. I remember it having around 1100 seats including the cry room. The auditorium was parallel to the street behind the sporting goods store with the screen on the east end. During the porno days, a large screen (20'x40') was installed for a short lived process called “Panasccope 35”. The screen covered the proscenium completely. “The Gayety” name came from one owner who tried to present live burlesque. The code enforcement people made him install an asbestos fire curtain along with many other improvements. He opened with a stripper, a whistle blew and the cops closed the place. The Livingston had one live show that lasted about 5 minutes.
As for the film aspects, it had an RCA booth with Brinkert BX60’s, RCA 9030 soundheads and Strong 135 lamps burning 11mm carbons. At the time the building owner was also the owner of the drug store next door (Joe Shade in 1970’s). We closed due to lack of product. After we closed, the Livingston was out of the entertainment business. Shade turned it into a doctor’s office catering to Medicaid recipients. The entrance to the waiting room was the theatre entrance and the exit was through a door cut in the west lobby wall into the drug store (traffic went right by the pharmacy counter). I later partnered with Frank Marzetti on a deal to purchase the equipment. It was later sold and scattered all over the Mid-west. After the Dr’s office closed it became a bath house which closed. It is now vacant and has been for some time.

Mark_L
Mark_L on June 6, 2010 at 6:13 pm

No.

Don’t forget the Paris Theatre, the former Parsons Theatre that also showed “adult” films.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 6, 2010 at 6:10 pm

As an early teenager reading these ads, I found it strange that ‘art’ was used as a synonym for ‘porn’ — not just here, but also at the Little Art Theatre and the chain that owned the Bexley and World.

I know that the Bexley and World did for a while legitimately show foreign art films that were not porn. Did the Livingston Art and Little Art ever do so?

Mark_L
Mark_L on June 6, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Sure with this site had an edit function! The above post should, of course, be “Entertainers”.

Mark_L
Mark_L on June 6, 2010 at 6:04 pm

I forgot to note that the “Gayety” name came with the advent of live “sentertainers”. This got a LOT of police action and attention, and I don’t recall it lasting very long.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 6, 2010 at 5:58 pm

I moved to Columbus in 1968 and recall it advertising in the Dispatch and Citizen-Journal as the Livingston Art (but showing porn), so I guess the Gayety name did not last long.

Mark_L
Mark_L on June 6, 2010 at 5:51 pm

It was purchased by Leroy Griffith in 1965, so the “porn” days started sometime in that year. I believe at that time it was the Livingston Art Theatre. It became the Gayety in 1967, with the addition of a dressing room and a small stage. The theatre was involved in many censorship-related lawsuits.

By 1972, the theatre was closed and the owner of Livingston Enterprises (next door to the theatre) listed it for sale or rent.

It changed due to a change in the neighborhood, from middle class to low income. Also, people started going to the suburban malls for entertainment, not the local neighborhood theatre.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 6, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Do you have any idea when and why they changed their booking policy to porn?

Mark_L
Mark_L on June 6, 2010 at 12:21 pm

The theatre opened on Saturday, 8/16/1947. The opening features were LIVING IN A BIG WAY and DARK DELUSION. THey also ran a Popeye short.

The Columbus Dispatch described the theatre as “having a distinctive facade of cut stone and pale green and brown terra cotta. The marquee, resembling the New York World’s Fair perisphere, will have space for 560 lights. The theatre is part of a new $4,000,000 business center.”

“An arcade lobby, with ticket window to the right and display windows to the left, will lead to the main foyer. Over a thousand patrons can be accommodated in the auditorium in which blue, yellow and red are dominant decorative colors. Features for convenience include a crying room for babies and hearing aids for the hard of hearing. Ample parking space has been provided.”

At one time, the theatre name was to be the Driving Park Theatre, named after the early 20th century racetrack located nearby.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on August 30, 2009 at 9:29 pm

By 1968 this was already a porn theatre, so sadly it did not serve its original purpose for very long.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 30, 2009 at 9:14 pm

The Livingston Theatre was designed by the Columbus firm of Alcox & Stritzel (Larry Alcox and Fred W. Stritzel.) The August 10, 1946, issue of Boxoffice Magazine reported that the house was nearing completion and was expected to open that fall.

The Livingston was to be operated by Fred W. Rowlands, president of Livingston Enterprises, who operated a chain of suburban Columbus theaters including the Main, Columbia, Parsons, and Hollywood.

The contractors on the project were Mulligan & Case, of Columbus, who also designed and built the Main Theatre.