Old Town Theater

815 1/2 King Street,
Alexandria, VA 22314

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Richmond Playhouse Auditorium From The Stage

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Originally opened as the Richmond Theater in 1914, it was the first permanent theater constructed in Alexandria and screened silent movies and vaudeville. The owners reportedly operated a vaudeville theater on the first floor and a dance hall on the second floor until around 1932, and the dance floor was later replaced with a balcony.

The cinema was twinned in 1980, making the balcony a second screen, and re-opened as the Old Town 1-2.

The Old Town was closed in 1999, and was reopened on Valentine Day 2002, after renovations were completed bringing the bathrooms up to ADA approved code, replacing the seats to a comfortable level and adding lighting and sound systems. The screen was removed opening the stage for live plays and a comedy venue. In December 2002, the Old Town Theater was closed.

The Old Town Theater re-opened in February 2004 with “Gone With the Wind” and “Philadelphia Story”. It was closed in early-January 2012 and later that year the facade was being restored. It has now reopened as a live performance theater.

Contributed by Ross Melnick, Sean Doerr

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

Hoiles
Hoiles on October 10, 2007 at 9:35 pm

When the Old Town reopened after the renovations in June 07 a second screen was again in place.

JackCoursey
JackCoursey on February 22, 2008 at 9:31 pm

Here is a February 2008 photo of the Old Town exterior and here is a photo of the proscenium.

Jwrunion
Jwrunion on June 27, 2008 at 7:21 pm

I love the Richmond Theater,original name of the Old Town. My first job was as an Usher there in 1964,.75 hr. My first paycheck was a great big $7.50 cash. I lied about my age, I was 15 said I was 17. I worked with a great guy named Robert Taylor who was about 25 years old then and we had a great time working there, free movies, spit ball fights back in the lobby during the movie, picking up girls, man what a great life it was then. I used to walk to the Richmond when I was 5 to see movies, I lived around the corner on Cameron Street(remember 1955’s “To Hell & Back” with Audie Murphy?)Man, I love that building and all the great memories!!!!

Giles
Giles on January 4, 2012 at 8:36 pm

heard on tonight’s news that the theater is closing this week due to low attendance and increased parking fees in Alexandria.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on February 4, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Theater website has disappeared but here was the history on it: The original permit to build, dated April 16, 1914, was for the purpose of “moving pictures, bowling alleys and billiards”, named the Richmond Theater, it was the first permanent theater constructed in Alexandria. The owners reportedly operated a vaudeville theater on the first floor and a dance hall on the second floor until around 1932. Around 1932, the theater closed for renovation, the second floor dance hall was removed, and a theater balcony constructed. The Richmond was used as a motion picture and vaudeville theater until sometime in the 1940s when vaudeville was phased out, and the theater was used exclusively for motion pictures. The Richmond operated as a motion picture theater until it closed in approximately 1972, when the city movie houses were failing to draw local residents. In 1976, the National Puppet Center applied for a special use permit to use for the performances and study of the puppet arts and it is not known how long the theater may have been used for this purpose. In 1980, the theater was renovated and re-opened as a double theater under a new name, the Old Town. The Old Town operated until October 1999 when it was again closed. On Valentines 2002, the Old Town was opened after renovations were completed bringing the bathrooms up to ADA approved code, bringing the balcony back, replacing the seats to a comfortable level and adding lighting and sound systems. The screen was removed opening the stage for live plays and a comedy venue. In December 2002, the theater was closed. The Old Town Theater has reopened as a multi entertainment center featuring all forms of the performing arts including film, theater, music and children shows.

Managing Partner
Roger Fons

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on February 4, 2012 at 8:16 pm

And here was the theater rental info, including screen size:
Old Town Theater is available for:

Corporate Meetings / Business Meetings Conferences / Conventions Events and Parties Birthday Parties The Theater features:

A 400+ stadium seat venue High Definition projector 16' by 22' screen computer imagery DVD, VCR, & Cable Digital Surround Sound Remote internet access Microphones: Wireless & Stand The Theater’s Restaurant Serves:

400+ Lunch and Dinner buffets Beer and Wine on trays stablized in the seat’s cupholders Menu

Giles
Giles on September 4, 2012 at 8:26 pm

ABC 7 is stating the theater will become a vaudeville type ‘live’ theater.

richmurphy
richmurphy on January 27, 2013 at 5:56 pm

The theatre’s status should be changed to “open”.

http://www.oldtowntheater1914.com/home.html

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 19, 2014 at 2:21 am

A two-page article about the Richmond Theatre appeared in the September 7, 1929, issue of Motion Picture News. It featured before and after photos of the front and rear of the auditorium, showing the changes made during the recent renovation of the house. The project was designed by architect Harry A. Brandt.

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