First post: Dundee, Chief and Cinema Center theaters
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Perusing our photo archives, I've found a bunch of old theater photos, in most cases Omaha theaters that aren't around anymore.
Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing highlights from our collection, one post at a time.
For our second post, here are some shots of the Admiral, Astro and Center theaters.
If you've got some theater requests, I'd be happy to look for the photos.
The Blackstone business district area around 40th and Farnam Streets is soon getting a fresh shot of new business, including two new restaurants, a brewery, a coffee shop and more. It's been a while, but the Blackstone used to be a pretty prominent retail hotspot. In the 1940s, the area had shopping districts at every major intersection, a community playhouse and the Admiral Theater.
The Admiral was built in 1941, opened the following year and stayed open for 41 years. The building would sit vacant for 13 years before being demolished in 1997 after many complaints that it was a neighborhood eyesore. It had a sad, prolonged end. But in its heyday, it had some snaz.
Here's a 1941 artist's rendering of the building before it was constructed.
All lit up. Photo provided by Signworks.
At the Admiral Theater's opening, the crowd was so big they didn't have space to safely smash a bottle of champagne to dedicate the theater. In this 1942 photo, Ralph Blank, left, Mrs. Walter Green, Mrs. Ralph Blank and Walter Green at the ceremony dinner.
In this 1979 photo by Jim Burnett, the audience participates in a showing of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."
Here it was in 1990, seven years after the theater closed.
The 2,776- seat theater opened as the Riviera in 1926, showing both stage shows and movies.
In 1929, it was sold and renamed the Paramount Theater. At some point in the following years, the lower lobby was converted to a miniature golf course.
Here it is as the Paramount back in the day
The Paramount played movies, stage shows, concerts and more until Creighton University bought the building in 1960. In '61, it became the home of the Omaha Packers, a professional bowling team. In '62, the Dubinsky Brothers Theaters of Lincoln leased it, remodeled it and opened the building as the Astro, short for astronaut and in honor of the just-completed space flight of John Glenn.
Here's the building in 1962.
The Astro showed its last movie in 1980.
Rose Blumkin bought the building in 1981.
The Center Theater at 3504 Center St. opened in 1951. It had 725 seats and was Omaha's first theater to have reverse pitch to its auditorium floor, ensuring that patrons in the front rows wouldn't get neck-strain. The interior of the auditorium was a pair of murals by W.E. Shook, which depicted an Old West theme of settlers, cowboys, Indians and buffalo.
Here's the Center before its 1951 opening.
The Center stayed open until 1974, when it was bought by the Junior Theater, an earlier version of the Omaha Theater Company.