The Historic Bethesda Theatre

Bethesda Theatre

Okay so I enjoy films – sometimes old ones – but I’ve always been a fan of old movie theaters like this.  So armed with my camera while out on a stroll around town, I decided to snap a few pictures!  Most locals will be familiar with the Bethesda Theatre, but for anyone new to the area, here’s the deal…

Opened as the Boro Theatre (name changed only a year later) on May 19, 1938 to a screening of Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife, starring Gary Cooper and Claudette Colbert, it soon became a local landmark/community hub and remains one of the few remaining Art Deco cinemas in the Greater DC Metro area.  At the time it was built, it represented the cutting edge of technology and comfort.

Remaining in that role for more than four decades, in 1983 it was converted to a film and food venue known as the Bethesda Cinema ‘N Drafthouse, then later the Bethesda Theatre Cafe in 1990.

Bethesda Theatre2

Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999 and restored to its former glory, thanks to the Bethesda Cultural Alliance, the old cinema is now a theater showing intimate Off Broadway productions and cabaret-style shows.  Great building!  For more info on shows, history and old pictures, check out the theaters official website.

And despite being pretty small, its fashionable Deco lines help it hold its own against the towering building behind!


2 Responses to The Historic Bethesda Theatre

  1. Mike Gelb says:

    Great article. Really was one of the originators of Bethesda. I would also add in Tastee Diner for that was opened in 1935 and was/is the landmark of Bethesda.

  2. Robert says:

    I remember going to lots of kids birthdays there. You sat at tables while watching the big screen. Very cool back then. I thought they shut it and turned it into an apartment building. Didn’t realise it still had stuff going on!

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