Loew's Broad Theatre

39 W. Broad Street,
Columbus, OH 43215

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Loew's Broad Theatre

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Located across the street from the RKO Palace Theatre and adjacent to the Broadway Theatre in downtown Columbus. The Rialto Theatre was opened on March 28, 1921. It was later known as the James Theatre. Re-named Loew’s Broad Theatre on August 21, 1927, it was closed on March 31, 1961 and was demolished.

An office building now is on the site.

Contributed by Dave

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 16, 2004 at 11:51 am

The theatre was located at 39 W. Broad Street and first opened in March, 1921, as The James Theatre, named in honor of owner-builder William M. James. At the time, The James was reported to be the largest movie theatre in Ohio, with 3,000 seats (more likely, around 2,500). Its electric vertical sign, with a flashing effect that required 3,000 bulbs, was claimed to be the most spectacular in the Middle West. Presenting movies and vaudeville, The James supported its programs with a 35-piece orchestra and a Kimball organ. In 1927, William James sold the theatre to a company jointly owned by the Loew’s and United Artists Theatres circuits, which was in the process of building an even larger theatre in Columbus that would be named the Ohio. Re-named Loew’s Broad, the ex-James continued to play vaudeville and movies even after the March, 1928 opening of the Loew’s & United Artists Ohio. In fact, the Ohio was so costly to operate that it switched to movies only in 1934, while the Broad continued with movies and stage shows for quite a few years after that. Eventually, the older Broad was reduced to subsequent-run double-features, and finally closed in 1961. It was demolished to make way for the Huntington Trust Building.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 30, 2004 at 3:17 pm

The architects of The James Theater were C. Howard Crane and Kenneth Franzheim. A seating capacity of 2800 is given in 1941 when it was listed as Loew’s Broad.

Hibi on January 7, 2005 at 12:03 pm

Would’ve liked to have seen what this theater looked like, but it was long gone before I came here. It sounds much bigger than the Palace across the street.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 9, 2005 at 6:08 am

The Columbus Metropolitan Library has an online historic photo collection with several photos of this and other theatres.

Broadway Theatre and James Theatre, side by side. The Broadway closed in 1929; the James became Loew’s Broad.

Loew’s Broad Theatre, 1960. The marquee advertises a live magic show, plus a double feature of Studs Lonigan and The Pusher.

Click on the thumbnails to see full-size photos.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 9, 2005 at 6:33 am

One more Loew’s Broad photo from the library collection:

Busloads of people flocked to Loew’s Broad Theatre in 1956 to see “The Ten Commandments”.

Click on the thumbnail to see a full-size photo.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 9, 2005 at 6:47 am

And one last Loew’s Broad photo, from 1957. This one shows lots of school buses lined up, some double-parked, outside the theatre whose marquee displays “The Ten Commandments”.

Across the street is the RKO Palace marquee, advertising Alan Ladd in “Big Land”, and a second feature of “Wicked Wife”.

Hibi on August 18, 2005 at 4:59 am

Thanks for all the info!

TLSLOEWS on December 29, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Interesting that vertical in the photo posted by ken mc on May 15,2006 reads Loews and United Artists.

TLSLOEWS on May 29, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Nice 1927 ad posted on the photo page today.

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