Sunday, February 17, 2013

West End Theater - Casino/Regal

Cincinnati has a West End, just like London, England, and our West End has theaters, but ours are in need of some attention. Like this one:
Photo by Photography for the People
This is commonly known now as the Regal Theater but it was originally built as the Casino Theater in 1913.
Cincinnati Enquirer; Nov 9, 1913; pg. 16
A combination of the vaudeville, dramatic and photo-play house is to be built at the northwest corner of Clark and Linn streets by the Casino Theater Company, which recently closed deals for the purchase of several parcels at the intersection, including the old plant of the Ackerman-Busch Livery Company.
Plans for the theater, to contain 1,500 seats, which includes a balcony arrangement, are now being made by Architects Zettel & Rapp, and indications point to letting of the contracts before the end of another two weeks. The improvement, including the ground, will represent an outlay of close to $125,000. It will be 90x100 feet and the exterior will have the tapestry effect, done in brick. The feature of the improvement, from the outside, will be a dome, over the main entrance, which will be finished in gold and green tile. The stage will be 25x90 feet, and will be arranged for vaudeville stunts and small theatrical performances. The proscenium opening will be 38 feet. J. J. Shelvin, of the Provident Building, will be the principal representative of the company, acting for a party of local capitalists who will not be active in its management. - Cincinnati Enquirer; Nov 9, 1913; pg. 16
1904-1930 Sanborn Map - Source
In the 1940's, the theater was purchased by the Goldman family and they ran it until its closing in 1996. The balcony was changed into two more screens, but the main floor screen and fly space remained. I found this quote on cinematreasures.org:

My Dad managed this place in the early 90s for Gary Goldman until the day they shut it down, the neighborhood largely ruined a lot of the splendor the building had along with the fact that business was on the decline and the money wasn't there to do proper maintenance at the time. The neighborhood and clientele were a little more dangerous then than they would be now. 
I’m afraid there is no pipe organ in there. There’s a reasonably large stage, a dressing room or two, a decent sized basement are under the stage, a very small orchestra pit in front. In the early 90s the balcony was converted into two more screens.
 It ran mostly second run with the occasional first run picture and had the best steamed hot dogs and metts you could get in Cincinnati...
 According to a post on the same website, in 2010, Dixon Edward, a former NFL football player who grew up in Cincinnati, was the owner and was looking for ways to restore the property. Nothing has occurred with the building in recent history. It has been owned by the same company, Casino Theater Cincinnati, LLC, /based in Irving, Texas, since 2002.
1/8/2014 Update - The building is now owned by the Hamilton County Land Bank. They are repairing the roof and other maintenance on the building, preparing it for future owners.
Close up of the detail. CASINO can be seen in each of the arches. Source
Side note - I found the comparison in the following maps dramatic. So much has changed in this neighborhood over the last 100 years.
Click to enlarge. 1904-1930 Sanborn Map - Source
Click to enlarge, 2013 CAGIS Map - Source

1 comment:

  1. I would be really nice if there was some interior pictures of the theatre. Hopefully some urban explorer can do that. As one person commented in regards to the remaining theaters in Cincinnati to our generation, "we are left with crumbs."

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