A unique building stands at the northwest corner of 7th & Snyder, and it possesses some fascinating history. We detailed this history at length back in 2014, so here’s a quick summary. A church was constructed at this corner in the late 19th century, and the building was converted into the Grand Theatre in 1911. The building underwent a renovation in the 1930s, covering the original facade and installing a <ahem> grand marquee. Here’s a look at the building from back then, we suspect in 1936 due to the release date of the film advertised on said marquee.
Like so many cinemas of this era, the Grand wasn’t able to survive changing times, and as adoption of the television skyrocketed, the theatre closed its doors in 1959. At that time, the building was converted to retail use, cycling through a number of different tenants over the years. During that period, the sheathing from its 1930s era renovation came down, revealing the building’s original chopped up facade. Not only could passersby see what was left of the old church facade, but they could also appreciate ghost signs, advertising the name of the theatre, daily matinees, and talkie pictures. More recently, an industrial supply company has occupied the building and those old ghost signs have largely faded.
The building was listed for sale over the summer at a $1.8M list price and went under contract in short order. The zoning for this property would allow for a five-story building with 40 units over commercial and no parking, and we have to think that something like that is what’s in store for this site. A byproduct of such a plan would be the demolition of the existing building, which we imagine at this point is a foregone conclusion. On the one hand, the old building is quite unique, with numerous intact elements of the old facade, plus those ghost signs. On the other hand, the facade is kind of a mess at this point and we don’t know that adaptive reuse would necessarily be a practical approach, given the current state of affairs. We suspect that whoever is buying the building will agree with the latter point, along with the fact that demolition and new construction would surely be a more lucrative approach and probably the only path that justifies that purchase price. So go check out what’s left of the Grand Theatre while you can, kids, as it will likely see its final curtain fall sometime soon.