Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Arlington Theater (1949-1985)

The Arlington Theater opened its doors at 1025 North Arlington Avenue in 1949.  For the next thirty-six years Irvingtonians flocked to the Art Moderne building to see the latest and most popular films in the country. The move theater became the place to go in the area among families because the management frequently showed Disney films.  The construction of the theater coincided with a building boom north and east of Irvington as returning World War II veterans took advantage of the GI Bill of Rights to purchase their dream homes.  By the early 1980s, independent movie houses like the Arlington struggled to compete with large megaplexes in nearby shopping malls.  The theater closed in 1985 and for a brief stint it served as venue for live music.  In the early 1990s, the local ACE Hardware Store (formerly Central Hardware) moved from its location at the southeast corner of East 10th Street and Arlington for the old theater.  Local carpenters converted the once stylish structure into a functioning hardware store by leveling out the floor. Thankfully, the management kept many remnants of the theater including the original fabric that used to cover the cinderblock walls.  All one has to do is to look up at the original ceiling to envision a lively movie theater.

A special thanks to Manager, Don Heslin and ACE employee Charles Luther for their assistance and hospitality.  

The Arlington Theater opened on October 6, 1949.  "You're My Everything" starred Anne Baxter and Dan Dailey.  (photo courtesy of  

The very modern interior of the Arlington Theater at 1025 North Arlington Avenue in 1949.  (photo courtesy of 

The beautiful entry of the Arlington Theater at 1025 North Arlington Avenue as it appeared in 1949. It took fifty loads of dirt to fill in the sloping theater to help level the floor for the ACE Hardware store in 1991. (photo courtesy of   

One of the last films shown at the Arlington was "City Heat" starring Burt Reynolds in 1984. 

The Arlington Theater ceiling looks down upon an ACE Hardware Store in 2015

The original cloth fabric of the Arlington Theater can still be seen hanging on the walls of  the current ACE Hardware Store at 1025 North Arlington Avenue.  The fabric was actually hung on wood which was attached to the cinderblock walls. 

The management of ACE Hardware saved one theater sconces of the Arlington Theater for posterity.  

Part of the original fabric curtain still hangs at the west end of the former Arlington Theater at 1025 North Arlington Avenue.  

The original Art Moderne curved walls from the Arlington Theater at 1025 North Arlington Avenue still stand in 2015.  


  1. In the late 1970s (1976-1980...when I was living in the 900 block of North Lesley, the Arlington was, at least for a while, a revival house. I saw several Marx Brothers movies there (Horse Feathers, Duck Soup, A Night at the Opera, and others) and a couple of Bogarts (Casablanca, The Big Sleep). I was really bummed when it was turned into a hardware store.

  2. Fun memories! I never had the opportunity to go to the Arlington when it was still a theater. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I remember seeing many movies at the Arlington Theater when I was a kid in the 60's. They had smoking sections on the left and right sides of the theater. We also frequented the Emerson Theater.