Esquire Theatre

320 Ludlow Avenue,
Cincinnati, OH 45220

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Esquire Theatre

The Clifton Opera House opened in Clifton, a district of Cincinnati, Ohio in 1911 and became the Clifton Theatre screening movies by 1915. Later renamed Esquire Theatre it became an art house in the 1960’s. Closing in 1983 due to competition from new multiplexes, it was scheduled to become a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant in 1984.

However, the planned conversion was blocked over a six year period by neighborhood advocates who eventually helped reopen the theater in 1990 as a 400-seat triplex. Around 1999, the theater was remodeled again and now houses six auditoriums.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 22, 2011 at 4:21 am

A list of Cincinnati movie houses was published in the March 29, 1915, issue of The Cincinnatian, the official publication of the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce. The only house listed for Ludlow Road was the Clifton Theatre, at Clifton and Ludlow. In a comment above hank.sykes says the theater had originally been called the Clifton Opera House, but it was definitely showing movies as the Clifton Theatre by 1915.

hanksykes on March 22, 2011 at 5:14 pm

A listing in the Cincinnati City Directory of 1915 refers to this theater as the Clifton Opera House and it would not be surprising to find that it was showing pictures along with its stage presentations.Many nab Opera Houses never played an Opera.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 22, 2011 at 6:13 pm

hank.sykes: The directory, being an annual publication, probably went to press before the name was changed (in fact, most city directories were published late in the year previous to that which they were dated.) The magazine was a monthly, and would have had the latest information. That would give a probable date of early 1915 for the theater’s first name change.

Here’s a link to The Cincinnatian, Volume 1, issue 32. The list of theaters is search result 5 (Google’s page number 41, in case Google Books doesn’t bring the page up automatically.) Some of these theaters might not yet be listed at Cinema Treasures, and others are probably listed under later names. I’m not familiar enough with the Cincinnati portion of the database to figure out which might be which. Maybe you can recognize some of them.

hanksykes on March 23, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Hello Joe, Many thanks for The Cincinnatian volume , the only one I could find at our main library was for 1927,it’s a real plus to have this link.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 23, 2011 at 5:11 pm

In case you haven’t seen it, follow the “About this book” link at the upper left of the Cincinnatian page, then scroll down to the “Other Editions” section. Google Books provides full views of two more volumes of the Cincinnatian, from 1916 and 1917.

Also, you might be interested in the several editions of Ohio Architect, Engineer and Builder available at Google Books.

kathyjo on April 7, 2012 at 8:13 am

Hi all, I share your interest in cinema treasures and just stumbled on this site. I do the PR for the Esquire & would LOVE to find some vintage photos of the theatre. Any idea where I can find some? Went to the Museum Center Historical Society but they didn’t have anything. Thanks, Kathy

CSWalczak on November 10, 2012 at 9:09 pm

The Esquire is celebrating its 101st birthday. View article

Robbie25646 on November 30, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Happy 101st Birthday Esquire.

MPol on December 9, 2012 at 7:51 pm

What a cool-looking movie theatre!

David_Schneider on December 2, 2016 at 9:04 am

I have uploaded photos of a plaque set in the sidewalk at the theatre’s entrance commemorating the Esquire’s 1987 victory in court over the fast food chain.

I visited the theater in August on my “Indiana-Ohio Trip 2016”.

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