The historic Georgetown Theater property on Wisconsin Ave. has been put up for sale. Currently it houses the National Jewel Center, but before that it was a working theater that was infamous in the 1970s for showing the x-rated film “Caligula” over and over again until the film broke. Prior to the 1950’s, the theater was called the Dumbarton Theater and looked like this:
The building has been owned by the Heon family since 1949. They also own Nathans’ old building and the old Philadelphia Cheesesteak Factory building (which used to be the location of the historic Cellar Door nightclub). As the huge banner where Nathans used to be can attest, the Heons are also trying to sell the Nathans property. The Philadelphia Cheesesteak Factory property has been empty for a month or two after the restaurant balked at a rent increase.
The property is being offered at $4.5 million. It has 6,086 square feet of space and the property will be “delivered vacant”. That would seem to suggest that the jeweler is getting kicked out, but perhaps it just means it will be delivered vacant at the buyer’s request.
GM would love it if it were to be returned to its original purpose. Just about all the tiny-screened theaters in town have shut down. The only place to catch a remotely non-Hollywood film is E Street theater, which is great, but it can be a trek to get down there sometimes. Any film buffs out there have $4.5 million?
In writing this piece, GM came across a poem written by Lawrence McDonald of the DC punk band Bells Of.. called “The Fall of the Loman Empire“, which is about ushers at the Georgetown Theater. Here’s a great excerpt:
Five shows a day of the x-rated Roman epic
Was the current fare
This was not enough to save the antiquated movie house
According to Bob
Had come a long way from its former glory
One winter day
He told me the dreadful news
“Gus says they finally found a buyer.”
“They’re gonna gut this place like a fish”
“And turn it into a jewelry outlet”
“The end of an empire”
Bob was getting pretty worked up
I detected a tear in his eye