Lansdowne Theater, originally built in 1927 by the Stanley Warner Company, is the largest and most iconic building in Lansdowne’s central business district.
A once thriving movie house and venue for live performances, the 1,358-seat movie theater hosted local and national entertainers and musicians and thousands of visitors. Known for its painted ceilings, grand chandelier, foyer organ, and courtyard fountains, the theater was originally owned by Stanley Warner Equity but was later leased by multiple operators over the years. The building underwent cosmetic renovations in 1986. On July 3, 1987, an electrical fire in the basement caused significant damage and a lack of funding for repairs forced the theater to seize operations.
Recognizing the theater’s historical and architectural significance and its potential to serve as a catalyst for the reinvigoration of Lansdowne’s Central Business District, the Greater Lansdowne Civic Association and the Lansdowne Economic Development Corporation established the non-profit Historic Lansdowne Theater Corporation (HLTC) in 2006 to purchase, stabilize, and restore the Lansdowne Theater.
June of 2023 marked the end of a years-long campaign to raise the funds needed to renovate and reopen the theater as a major regional concert venue. The overall $19.1 million project includes a $11.9 million Reinvestment Fund loan package: a RACP & Grant Bridge Loan and other Short-Term Funding ($8.5 million), a Historic Tax Credit bridge loan ($1.4 million), and a term loan specifically to fund energy efficiency measures ($2 million). The project also has financial support from government grants and local foundations. Construction is expected to start at the end of summer.
The mission of the project centers primarily around community revitalization, economic development, and historic preservation. Much of the restoration work will focus on transforming the movie theater into a modern concert venue. When complete, the theater will operate as a 1,280-seat concert venue/event space with an anchor tenant, the concert promotion business BRE Presents.
The property currently features 26,253 square-feet of rentable area within the 2-story building, including the large vacant theater, two vacant ground-floor commercial spaces, and a second-floor office space.
Much of the theater’s unique architectural detail remains intact, including the ticket booth, poster cases, outdoor lobby, pendent lights, marquee. Renovations will center on the acoustic and audio-visual improvements with sound-control methods for the theater area, including adapting the stage to accommodate live performances and sound isolation for certain back of house spaces.