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Motion picture theaters from the silent era.
Copyright © 1999-2024 by Carl Bennett and the Silent Era Company.
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Updated 21 September 2023
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This section documents motion picture theaters active in the silent era. To begin with, we principally focused on theaters operating as first-run houses in the top three markets of three western United States in 1925. There is more to come in the way of information on second-run houses in those markets, and on theaters located elsewhere in those states. Additional states and cities will be added as time permits, beginning with the most densely-populated markets, and other theaters in smaller cities as information comes in.

But you can help.

The information here focuses on motion picture theaters that were built and were in operation in the silent era. Each entry will, ideally, list the original theater name, the original street address, the city of location, the original number of seats, photographs (from the silent era) of the theater, plus additional information (when available) such as the original owners (individual or theater chain), the theater architect, notations of the type of musical accompaniment, theater staff (in the silent era), whether the theater building still exists, whether the theater is still operating, other names for the theater throughout the years, etc.

While there were thousands upon thousands of silent era theaters and not all of them can be documented, we would like to save as much information as possible for future reference. This is such a large undertaking that it will be impossible for individuals to gather enough information to be of value. If you have data on silent era theaters, especially photographs of theaters from the silent era, please consider contacting us.

Yes, I have information on silent era theaters!

Books of theater-related interest:
The Chicago Movies Palaces of Balaban and Katz by David Balaban
Cinema Treasures: A New Look at Classic Movies Theaters by Ross Melnick and Andreas Fuchs
Cinemental Journeys: An Uncommon Road Trip to Classic Movie Theaters by Mike and Vicki Walker
Cleveland’s Playhouse Square by Patricia M. Mote
Detroit’s Downtown Movies Palaces by Michael Hauser and Marianne Weldon
Exhibition: The Film Reader by Ina Rae Hark
Historic Movie Theatres in Illinois: 1883-1960 by Konrad Schiecke
The Last Remaining Seats: Movie Palaces of Tinseltown by Robert Berger and Anne Conser
Motion Picture Exhibition on Baltimore: An Illustrated History and Directory of Theaters, 1895-2004 by Robert K. Headley
Moviegoing the America: A Sourcebook in the History of Film Exhibition edited by Gregory Walker
Movie Palaces: Survivors of an Elegant Era by Ave Pildas and Lucinda Smith
Palaces of the Night: Canada’s Grand Theatres by John C. Lindsay
Philadelphia Theatres by Irvin R. Glazer
Shared Pleasures: A History of Movie Presentation in the United States by Douglas Gomery
Silent Screens by Michael Putnam
Silver Screens: A Pictorial History of Milwaukee’s Movie Theaters by Larry Widen and Judi Anderson
South Jersey Movie Houses by Allen F. Hauss
Stepping Out in Cincinnati by Allen J. Singer
Theatres by Craig Morrison
Theatres of Oakland by Jack Tillmany and Jennifer Dowling
Theatres of San Francisco by Jack Tillmany


These websites also document motion picture theaters active in the silent era, and detail more than a single theater. Many of them contain far more information than we have been able to post here. Most, like the Silent Era website, are labors of love. We encourage you to visit these websites, and perhaps become involved in the restoration of a silent era theater in your city.

Cinema Tour
Cinema Treasures
Puget Sound Theatre Organ Society South Carolina Movie Theatres
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