Apartment Living BlogApartment Living › The Oldest Movie Theaters in the US

The joy and comfort of going to the movies has endured for almost a century. And while we’re regularly inundated with newer chain theaters, there are still tons of old, historic theaters around the country to enjoy. Let’s take a look at some of the oldest theaters in the United States.

Castro Theatre (San Francisco, CA)

The original Castro Theatre was built in 1910. Shortly thereafter, it was remodeled into a retail store and the “new” Castro Theatre was built a few streets up from the original location, officially opening in 1922. Today, the beautiful, longstanding theater is host to film festivals and special events. In 2008, the Castro’s marquee was featured in Gus Van Sant’s Harvey Milk biopic, Milk, and the film also held its world premiere at the theater.

Grand Lake Theatre (Oakland, CA)

Designed as a single-auditorium theater, the Grand Lake officially opened its doors in 1926. It was originally a vaudeville and silent movie theater before changing its tune at the introduction of “talkies” a few years later, and it eventually switched to showing films with sound exclusively. Over the decades, the theater has been owned by five different companies, finally sticking with Renaissance Rialto Inc. in 1980. The theater has since expanded, purchasing the small businesses surrounding it and transforming them into auditoriums. Every Friday and Saturday night, the theater puts on a brief concert with an historic Mighty Wurlitzer organ before showtimes, proving that it is still in touch with its history.

The County Theater (Doylestown, PA)

This historic art deco theater opened its doors in 1938. It thrived for the next three decades, remaining consistently popular among locals. But business began to slow down in the 1970s and 1980s, and it closed its doors in 1990. It reopened after six months only to be shut down again in 1992, this time for nine months. Luckily, the theater was saved by a local film society that reopened the County as a nonprofit community-based project. It was met with wild success and, after several interior and exterior renovations, the theater still thrives to this day.

River Oaks Theatre (Houston, TX)

Located in an unassuming shopping center, this Texas theater has been around since 1939. Originally showcasing first-run films, the River Oaks soon switched over to more alternative fair, running foreign, cult and indie films instead. The theater resumed playing first-run films in the 1980s when it started losing business due to the rising popularity of movie rentals. It also renovated its interior and sound system to appease customers. The River Oaks is also one of the only theaters in Texas that carries out the tradition of monthly midnight showings of the cult favorite The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The Plaza Theatre (Atlanta, GA)

The Plaza Theatre first opened in 1939 and played first-run films. In the 1970s, though, it became an X-rated cinema and live burlesque theater. It was bought up in the early 1980s and switched over to playing foreign, cult and art house cinema, which it still does to this day. It suffered financial hardships in the late 1990s and 2000s, and was put up for sale in 2006. It was purchased the same year and, in 2010, became a nonprofit organization.

Did you have a chance to check out any of these Summer 2015 Movies?


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Hi! I’m Maria, formerly the Social Media & Content Marketing Manager for ForRent.com. I was part of a dream team that is dedicated to running this awesome blog along with ForRent.com's social channels. If I am not busy writing blogs and socially sharing, you can find me working out, drinking cappuccinos, stylizing my apartment and doing DIY projects!

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