Esquire Theatre

1630 Euclid Avenue,
Cleveland, OH 44115

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Esquire Theatre

This was on the south side of Euclid Avenue just east of E. 17th Street, and closed on May 28, 1951. It became the studios of WJW-TV Channel 8. I don’t know anything about it other than it existed. I have a photo of it with the title “Hit Parade of 1952” on the marquee, plus another title I can’t make out.

After Ch. 8 moved down by the Shoreway, the building became the Center Repertory Theatre in the late-1970’s and they moved out in 1980. It sat vacant for a while and was demolished in the mid-1980 with the site becoming a parking lot.

Contributed by dave-bronx

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

jsomich on January 19, 2005 at 3:36 am

Here’s an interesting discovery. I have found this old picture where the “Esquire” was called “Lake.” This is something I never realized.
You can also see a few other marquees in Playhouse Square.

Hibi on December 20, 2005 at 6:22 am

Wasnt the Esquire farther down Euclid by the Hippodrome? I thought it was around E.9th. I’m pretty sure it was across the street from the Hipp or close.

Hibi on December 20, 2005 at 7:18 am

Ooops! I was thinking of the Embassy. I never knew there was another theater besides the Big Four in Playhouse Square. Wonder how big it was and when it closed? I dont remember newsp. ads for it in the 60’s.

simplexlover on December 20, 2005 at 9:40 am

According to my infallable records (he-he) the Esquire was originally the Lake. Have no records, but the Lake probably goes back to the twenties.
It was almost directly across Euclid Ave. from the RKO Palace. It closed (approximately) in 1950 (as the Esquire) and became the studios for WXEL-TV 9 (which later became (WJW-TV 8).
I was in there when it was a TV studio. They left the seats in place as well as the stage. The engineers who worked there told me it was quite a “rat trap” in it’s last days. Now it is a beautiful and scenic parking lot. (what else?).

simplexlover on December 20, 2005 at 9:47 am

Oh, I just found an old picture of the Lake. I’ll bet you’ve never seen this one before.
A great shot looking down Euclid Ave. from Playhouse Sq. from sometime in the 30s.

Hibi on December 21, 2005 at 3:42 am

Thanks for the pic. I’d never knew this theater existed!

fmbeall on October 11, 2007 at 8:22 pm

Theatre opened as the Cinema in 1928. Shortly later Warner Brothers took it over and renamed it the Lake. It functioned as mainly a mover-over house from the Hippodrome for most of the 30’s and 40’s. In 1948 it was taken over by Community Theatres and, after a complete renovation, renamed the Esquire. It was operated for several years as the prime “art house” theatre downtown, but about the mid-fifties the exterior was completely remodeled and the entire building became a radio/tv studio. Last time I saw it (in 2000) it had become a parking lot.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 7, 2009 at 10:25 pm

The February 23, 1952, issue of Boxoffice lists the Esquire as one of two Cleveland theaters that had been converted to broadcasting studios. The other was the Metropolitan.

rivest266 on January 19, 2014 at 6:32 am

Grand opening ad from Christmas Day, 1930 as Lake is in the photo section.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 29, 2018 at 7:49 pm

According to Alan F. Dutka’s Historic Movie Theaters of Downtown Cleveland (and other sources), the Cinema/Lake/Esquire Theatre was at 1630 Euclid, across the street and a couple of doors east from the Palace Theatre. The Esquire closed on May 28, 1951.

But the Esquire’s conversion to a television studio in the 1950s did not mark the end of its career as a theater. In the late 1970s it was the home of the Center Repertory Theatre, a group which was a member of the LOTR (League of Resident Theatres.) Dutka says the television studio moved out in 1975 and the theater group occupied the house from 1978 into 1980, but a Facebook page for the theater group says it was there from 1974 into 1980.

This Facebook page has a lengthy reminiscence about the Center Repertory Theatre’s time in the house by one of its members, Tom Fulton. After the theater group folded the building sat empty and decaying for a number of years before being demolished in the mid-1980s for a parking lot.

Dutka notes that more recently the parking lot itself was obliterated for a southward extension of East 17th Street. Comparing current street view with vintage photos, it can be seen that the building once next door to the theater on the east is now occupied by the Bonfoey Gallery, and is now on the corner of the East 17th Street extension where the Esquire once stood.

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