Columbia Theater

121 South Jefferson Street,
Dayton, OH 45403

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Columbia Theatre Winter

When this theater was built in 1914, it was said to be the most beautifully decorated movie house in Dayton at the time. At a cost of $30,000 the paneled ceilings of the auditorium were decorated in a creme color. The beams and all ornamental plaster work were white and gold. The upper walls were of a gold tone with Renaissance style decoration in the style of the 15th century art. The lower walls were decorated with a Spanish leather effect which was done by overglazing with different colors.

The theaters entrance featured a horseshoe shaped entrance, lit by a number of electric bulbs, a rather new invention at the time. The theater opened with an eight reel film called “The Princess of Bagdad”. A Wurlitzer Automatic Orchestra provided music for the film.

As the years went on, the theater started to deline, both due to neglect and B-grade movies. By the 1940’s the theater rarely advertised and was considered a cheap alternative to the more expensive downtown theaters. In 1948, the theater was purchased and remodeled. It was too late. The once beautiful theater was considered by many to be gaudy and outdated.

The Columbia Theater shut its doors in 1959 and was demolished shortly there after. The original site is now part of green space/park in downtown Dayton.

Contributed by Jon Flynn

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

rivest266 on August 23, 2008 at 9:32 am

Lost Memory, It has been yanked, but can be found at View link

ZookieFreddie on February 22, 2009 at 5:57 pm

I hate to tell you this but the photo is at neither one of the links posted above. Does anybody else have a photo?

ZookieFreddie on February 22, 2009 at 6:08 pm

I hate to tell you this but the photo does not exist at either link posted above. Does anyone have a photo?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 11, 2010 at 6:42 am

The Columbia was one of the Dayton theaters designed by architect Gustave A. Niehus (others included the Apollo and the Mecca.) The Columbia’s recent opening was announced in the Decmeber 27, 1913, issue of The Motion Picture World.

Gary Smith
Gary Smith on August 27, 2013 at 10:23 am

The Columbia also had an orchestra to accompany the silent films during Prime-Time and the organ was used the rest of the time. The rear of the Columbia backed up to the side of the RKO State theatre.

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