“Tomorrow night, the first large theatrical enterprise conceived for east Washington patronage will be inaugurated. The Avenue Grand Theater, located at 645 to 649 Pennsylvania avenue southeast, will be opened and its first performances given. The theatre will offer high-class vaudeville, entirely new motion pictures, and a musical attractions.
The Avenue Grand orchestra is to be a permanent musical feature. Eight acts a week are promised for the program.”
When I first went to the Avenue Grand as a kid in the 1950s, the theatre seemed run down, a bit seedy and reeking of age. This is where I saw, for the first time, the Universal “B” monster movies including Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.
At some point in the mid 50s, the Avenue Grand became the Capitol Hill. After renovating the space, owner Don King opened on August 17th, 1967 with The King of Hearts. I was an usher that evening but over the next few months served as doorman, cashier, assistant manager and finally manager. Everything being a bit chaotic.
Shortly after I moved on to a theatre in Arlington, Virginia, a “for sale” sign went up on the old Avenue Grand-Capitol Hill. A fire broke out in November 1970, destroying the interior. The last remnants of the burned out theatre razed soon afterwards.
Photo of the Capitol Hill is from the Theatre Talks Collection. Please ask permission to copy and/or re-use.
Cezar Del Valle is available for theatre walks and talks in 2013.