Hippodrome Theatre

720 Euclid Avenue,
Cleveland, OH 44114

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The Hippodrome Building, including the huge Hippodrome Theatre opened on December 30, 1907. The building itself was a unique structure with an eleven-story section facing Euclid Avenue and a seven-story section facing Prospect Avenue. The Hippodrome Theatre stretched between the two avenues. The opening production in the Hippodrome Theatre was the musical “Coaching Days”, and the feature of the evening was the exciting spectacle of horses diving into a large water tank built into the front of the stage. Presentations at the Hippodrome Theatre included grand opera, popular musical shows, vaudeville and movies.

John Phillip Sousa and Marie Dressler are two of the many name performers who played at the Hippodrome Theatre.

[above text from the book “Playhouse Square Cleveland Ohio” written by Kathleen Kennedy, Playhouse Square Association]

This place was HUGE. The main entrance on Euclid Avenue had a marquee and box office and came into a lobby that went through the block to another entrance on Prospect Avenue where there was another marquee and box office. The auditorium was off the lobby to the left, perpendicular to the lobby. It was remodeled by architect Thomas Lamb in 1930.

The times I was there was as a kid in the late-1960s it was a grind house, film running continuously. I never saw the interior with the lights on, so I can’t really say what the archetectural style was. It was high and dark. I could barely make out that there were three balconies above the orchestra, but they were always closed in those last years.

The Hippodrome Theatre lasted until 1981 when it was demolished to make way for, what else, a parking garage.

Contributed by dave-bronx

Recent comments (view all 118 comments)

Hibi on August 5, 2010 at 1:27 pm

So the Hipp was heated by steam and had no heating system of its own?

jtmcdaniel on August 5, 2010 at 8:13 pm

I’m not sure, but it seems likely. Most of the downtown buildings used steam purchased from Muni Light for heat, and I remember a mad scramble to install boilers when the sales were cut off. Adding a steam plant to an old office building that was constructed without provision for a boiler room was obviously pretty expensive, presuming you could find a place to put it, and were willing to spend the money. Sometimes they just closed the building and sold the land.

The steam pipes ran in a vault just under the sidewalks, which had a side benefit of keeping the sidewalks warm enough in the winter that the snow tended to melt off them.

TLSLOEWS on August 5, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Interesting reading.

W Frisk
W Frisk on April 12, 2011 at 5:23 pm

I visited it right before demolition and it was a huge and complex place. The upper balcony looked across to a flat wall way above the proscenium. There was a stairway for the top balcony balcony that had a railing down the middle for crowd safety and winded up many flights of steps with no other doors until you actually got to the balcony. The rehearsal hall had been used by a radio station and was huge as well with South facing windows, so there was natural light, the West wall of that room was the wall the upper balcony faced since it was over the auditorium. I need to look at my pictures again which shows it was similar gargantuan size like the Philadelphia Met and the Auditorium chicago.

chspringer on April 12, 2011 at 9:53 pm

WF, can you post the pictures or e-mail scans?

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on July 20, 2011 at 7:56 pm

“I’d Rather Be Rich” 1964 Biggest Wednesday Opening in the History of the Theatre.BOXOFFICE Sept.7 1964.

BobStanley on September 7, 2012 at 9:04 pm

I grew up in Cleveland and was a regular at the Hippodrome. It was literally like a palace. Plush red carpet, a grand sprawling marble stairway and there were gargoyle heads that lined the walls. The screen was huge and framed by heavy, thick velvet drapes that parted at the beginning of every movie to entertain you with coming attractions and instead of commercials you had a The Three Stooges short or a classic cartoon like Road Runner or Wood Woodpecker. I saw Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon 16 times their. Cleveland has a great deal to hang their heads in shame for tearing down this grand city treasure. No effort was made to save the Hippodrome. No words can express the anger and sadness I felt when Cleveland allowed the destruction of this irreplaceable treasure.

Norm Lindway
Norm Lindway on January 25, 2013 at 10:09 am

There are two pictures of the inside of the Hipp(Inside lobby and auditorium) in the book “Euclid Avenue, Cleveland’s Sophisticated Lady, 1920-1970” by Karberg and Toman, published by Cleveland Landmarks Press. Pictures of other downtown theaters are also in the book. Maybe someone can get permission to have these pictures scanned for inclusion in Cinema Treasures.

LisaK on January 18, 2016 at 10:26 am

I was actually working downtown in the early 80’s at Ameritrust on the corner of East 9th & Euclid and watched the Hippodrome be imploded. So it wasn’t destroyed in 1975, it was 1981. I never got to go inside and I was quite young when it was demolished, but I do remember it being a very sad day and very sad thing to watch “history” being destroyed.

BigPolishDog1951 on July 27, 2017 at 7:38 am

I vividly remember watching “Goldfinger” on New Years Day the year of its release…I was a pre-teen, and I believe Mom picked me up after the show…But, sitting there when he gets his introduction to Honor Blackman, and utters her name, POOOSIE,and a wave, a tsunami, of unbridled and hysterical laughter swept over the entire audience……Later by a few years, a few of us ‘creatively cut school’(Cathedral Latin on 107th and Euclid)and ‘visited’ the pool hall located beneath the movie theater proper….Boy, was that adventurous !

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