Bethesda Theatre

7719 Wisconsin Avenue,
Bethesda, MD 20814

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Bethesda Theatre

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Opened on May 19, 1938 as the Boro Theatre, the movie house changed its name just a year later to the Bethesda Theatre. It kept this name and operated continuously until the early-1980’s, when it closed.

In 1983, the historic theater was purchased, renovated, and reopened as the Bethesda Cinema ‘N Drafthouse. In addition to watching a movie, moviegoers could feast on a steady diet of pizza, sandwiches, and beer. In the early-1990’s, the Bethesda Theatre changed its name again to the Bethesda Theatre Cafe, to bring more families and adults to its seats.

The Bethesda Theatre closed when construction of a new hi-rise began above the cinema, but in 2007 it re-opened for live shows. Closed in 2010, it reopened in February 2013 as a jazz club.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

JackCoursey
JackCoursey on January 12, 2008 at 5:58 am

Here, here, and here are photos from January 2008 of the Bethesda Theatre.

cshartsis
cshartsis on March 22, 2009 at 3:32 am

I spent nearly every Saturday for several years of my childhood (the 60’s) in this theater. My mother would give me from 75 cents to a dollar and I would pay 50 cents for a double feature (usually old monster or Sci-Fi movies) and spend the rest of the loot on popcorn and candy. Kids from blocks around would come and spend their Saturday in the same place. It was here that I first learned to cope with fear. The first time I saw a monster feature there, I was frightened like I always prevously had been at monster movies. I was amazed to see that the other kids were laughing instead of being afraid. Pretty soon I started laughing with every one else. The Bethesda is where I learned to overcome fear (of monsters) as a child. This theater meant a lot to me.

sott68
sott68 on March 2, 2010 at 9:38 am

The Cinema & Drafthouse was a great place to hang.. saw many movies there in the late 80’s, early 90’s… On Sundays they showed Redskins games and once I remember the Greaseman doing a live show – I was pretty drunk that night, so dont remember much.. there were a ton of creepy dudes there that night.
A good place to watch a cheap movie and have a few drafts. The pizza was pretty crappy but edible after a few pulls on the glass.

Giles
Giles on June 8, 2010 at 10:09 am

well… um…. even converted to showcase ‘live’ plays/musicals – this theatre is not surviving. I’m not sure where the fault lies, but it’s not able to operate under current management (or lack there of). Personally I’d book concerts and comedy acts/comedians – or even, (shock!] put a screen back up and show movies! Even in it’s current configurement, which I must admit isn’t well suited to live performances – the stage is set way too back.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on June 16, 2010 at 1:09 pm

This theater is going on the auction block as the current owners are in default on a mortgage: View link

Giles
Giles on July 1, 2010 at 3:48 am

the NBC channel 4 story (which they misspelled auction as “acution”) stated that the theatre is to remain, if and when a bid/purchase is made, as a performing arts venue

Giles
Giles on March 26, 2012 at 10:58 am

the marque now states the theater will reopen in the Fall (2012) as a Jazz/Blues music venue – I think they’d also might want to branch out and include other musical genres as well – it actually might work.

Giles
Giles on April 28, 2013 at 7:15 pm

so the theater space is up and running again – for live music this time. (wonder how long it will stay open?)

2ndStix
2ndStix on March 27, 2014 at 6:38 pm

A terrific theater. Saw a handful of movies there as a kid when it was part of the KB chain. The last movie I saw there before it became the Cinema ‘N Drafthouse was a truly abominable print of “2001: A Space Odyssey” in the autumn of 1981.

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