Victoria Theatre

138 N. Main Street,
Dayton, OH 45403

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Victoria Exterior July 2011

Viewing: Photo | Street View

If a theatre had nine lives, this theatre has spent them all. This theatre has caught fire, flooded and dodged the wrecking ball several times in her life.

In 1866 The Turner Opera House was bulit at 3rd and Main in Dayton, Ohio. Three years later the opera house burnt to the ground except for the front facade. The theatre reopened on Novermber 28, 1871 as the Music Hall. The original front facade was used, but the auditorium was now on the ground floor and the building itself was about two floors shorter.

In 1885 the theatre name was changed to the Grand Opera House and in 1897, Daytonians got their first peek at motion pictures. In 1899 the theatre’s name was changed to the Victoria Opera House and then just the Victoria Theatre. The great flood of 1913 severely damaged the theatre, and again she came back only to catch fire again in 1919.

In 1919 the theatre was renamed the Victory Theatre in honor of America’s WW I victory. In 1925, Houdini performed at the theatre and was said to have used the theatre’s vents for his great escape. Up until this point the theatre had always had live theatre, but in the 1930’s theatre was taking a back stage to motion pictures.

The theatre continued to show film and ocasional theatre until the 1970’s when the theater was going to be torn down for a parking lot. A grass root effort was started to save the Victory and eventually enough money was raised. A non-profit organization called the Victory Theatre Association was established to operate the theater and in 1989 the theatre underwent a 17.5 million restoration and reopened as the Victoria Theatre.

Today this beautiful theatre is alive with dance, theatre, Broadway style plays and summer movie series. She will be enjoyed for many more generations to come.

Contributed by Jon Flynn

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on January 17, 2008 at 4:04 am

The windows look the same in both photos, as does the entrance. I would guess that some work has been done on the roof to add the cupolas.

jon6444
jon6444 on January 22, 2008 at 12:26 am

The corner building is the actual theatre…in the old photo you can see the end on that building on the left….the main building in the old photo is now part of the loft theatre…before that it was a department store….not sure if the structure is original. It was probaly wood, the current building is concrete.

citysmithy
citysmithy on February 10, 2008 at 10:26 pm

The building was built, and still is, at FIRST & Main Streets, not 3rd & Main

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 6, 2008 at 8:15 pm

As the Grand Opera House, this theatre is listed in the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide. GA & WC Dickson were the managers, and the seating capacity is given as 2000. Ticket prices ranged from 25 cents to $1. The theatre was on the ground floor and had both gas and electric illumination. The proscenium opening was 37 feet wide X 35 feet high, and the stage was 38 feet deep. There was also a Park Theatre in Dayton, also managed by the Dicksons, and also having about 2000 seats. The 1897 population of Dayton was 95,000.

moviemad
moviemad on June 1, 2009 at 4:17 am

After the Victory lost the exclusive run of Disney movies, the theatre was closed. I believe the name of the young man who reopened the theatre was Jim Burt, who marketed the theatre for young adults and the years I believe was 1971 to around 1974. Double feature midnight shows ran including rock concert films like WOODSTOCK, FILLMORE and during this time Jane Fonda made a personal appearance on stage. Around 1972, Jim rented the Loews theatre across the street for concerts.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 21, 2012 at 2:36 am

Here is the website for this theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 21, 2012 at 2:01 am

The historic photos from the Dayton library that were linked in earlier comments have all been moved to new URLs.

Here is the original Turner’s Opera House of 1864.

Here is the photo of the ruins of the Opera House after the 1869 fire.

Here is the pre-1918 fire photo of the Music Hall.

Here is the Victory Theatre after it was rebuilt in 1919.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 2, 2012 at 4:58 pm

The Victory’s marquee was featured in this 1948 trade ad: boxofficemagazine

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 25, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Renovations described in 1967 trade article starting in the right column of this page: Boxoffice

MovieMad52
MovieMad52 on December 23, 2012 at 8:44 pm

The Victory Theatre was the exclusive run for all Disney movies for about 20 years until MidStates began the squeeze for multi runs and eventually cleared the Victory from the any Disney first run.

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