Loew's Columbia Theatre

1112 F Street NW,
Washington, DC 20004

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Loew's Inc.

Architects: Appleton P. Clark, William S. Plager

Previous Names: Columbia Theatre

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Loew's Columbia Theatre

The Columbia Theatre was built in 1891, located on F Street NW near 11th Street. It had 971 seats and was designed by architect William S. Plager. It was remodelled in 1896 to the plans of architect Appleton P. Clark, Jr., now with 1,174 seats, it reopened November 9, 1896 with the opera “Il Trovatore”.

It was taken over by Marcus Loew in 1915 (his first venture outside New York) and presented vaudeville and movies. It was equipped with a Moller 2 manual 7 ranks organ in 1916, and this was replaced by a Moller 3 manual 15 ranks organ in 1923. It later became a movie theatre and was known as Loew’s Columbia Theatre.

In 1959, the theatre closed and was razed in September 1959. The Arnold-Porter Building is on the site today.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

veyoung52 on January 21, 2005 at 9:53 pm

The Loews chain opened a new Columbia, replacing the old one, in early 1960 specifically for the “Ben-Hur” engagement.

rlvjr on June 12, 2005 at 6:59 pm

LOEW’S had three beautiful theatres on F Street: The CAPITOL, PALACE and COLUMBIA. The COLUMBIA was smaller but still had about 1000 seats and had both a balcony and mezzenine. A nifty place and usually full of happy filmgoers. BEN HUR played reserved seats at the WARNER 13th & F. There never was a new COLUMBIA. Shortly before the COLUMBIA was closed, LOEW’S built a crub-bum new theatre, LOEW’S EMBASSY, about 600 seats, strictly modern, no distinction at all. LOEW’S COLUMBIA had a cat, and the cat would occasionally “perform” on stage, if anybody noticed.

veyoung52 on June 16, 2005 at 7:23 am

RLVJR, you seem to be correct, but what happened? I still have somewhere two articles from “Variety”, both in mid-59, one announcing the list of opening B-H engagements, mentioning the Columbia, and another indicating that the old house would be demolished and replaced by the new Columbia. Also, a full-page ad for the new Columbia also in mid- to late-1959. What happened? Why wasn’t it built? Thanks

veyoung52 on June 17, 2005 at 4:35 am

Re: “Loews New Columbia”. Here’re the dates & pages in Variety with the first two items I mentioned above:

pg 14
Loew’s to Hail ‘New’ Columbia in D.C.
70-Year-Old Theatre to be Razed for De Lux Version Opening Next Year

pgs 11-13
MGM advertisement for ‘Ben-Hur'
Listing theatre openings: Washington â€" Loew’s New Columbia"

I believe the ad for the theatre itself came out shortly thereafter.

rlvjr on June 17, 2005 at 4:42 am

I think Loew’s originally planned in naming their crumb-bum new theater New Culumbia, but since it was constructed 2 or 3 miles from the Columbia being torn down they must have changed their mind. Also there was an overlap of a few weeks between opening the EMBASSY and closing the COLUMBIA. BEN-HUR definitely played the WARNER, not Loew’s.

allanb on June 25, 2005 at 10:10 am

The Columbia’s biggest claim to fame is as the theatre where Helen Hayes made her stage debut.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 11, 2009 at 11:32 am

The Columbia is listed under Washington DC in the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide. Its Directors were Nixon and Zimmerman and F. Metzerott was the Mgr. Ticket prices ranged from 25 cents to $1.50. There were 600 orchestra seats, 450 balcony seats and 950 gallery seats, total 2,000. The theater was on the ground floor, had 10 musicians in the house orchestra, and the Edison system of electric lighting. The proscenium opening was 35 feet wide X 33 feet high, and the stage was 40 feet deep. Other Washington theaters listed in this Cahn guide were the Academy of Music, Bijou Family Theatre, Grand Opera House, Lafayette Square Opera House and New National Theatre. The 1897 population was 300,000.

DavidZornig on January 8, 2016 at 6:08 pm

Loew’s Columbia photo added.

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