11 Most Endangered Historic Places

Historic American Movie Theaters

Year Listed: 2001
Location: *United States
Threat: Deterioration, Neglect

Significance

Historic
The Senator Theater in Baltimore, Maryland is among the Historic American Movie Theaters on the National Trust's 2001 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list.

Credit: Byrd Wood

Since the birth of the motion picture era more than a century ago, millions of Americans have flocked to downtown theaters for the latest films. Historic theaters were designed to transport audiences to fanciful, faraway places with their Art Deco, Egyptian and Chinese motifs, bringing a unique dimension to the movie going experience. But because multi-screen chain theaters can show more movies to smaller audiences, they don't need a full house to make a profit. Historic movie theaters, which have higher operating costs anyway, typically have hundreds or even thousands of seats per screen. When the theater isn't full, it's harder to stay viable and historic theaters across the country are being razed as a result.