The Theatre was opened as the Earle Theatre in 1924. The theater was designed by C. Howard Crane and Kenneth Franzheim(1) and the firm of Zink, Adkins & Craycroft as architects.(4)
A Kimball theater organ size 3/10 was installed in the Earle Theater in 1924.(3)
It was complemented by a rooftop garden that attracted thousands of visitors per night. The basement was also famous, first as a restaurant and ballroom, and in the 1930s as the Neptune Room.
On December 1, 1939, Alfred Hitchcock’s B&W “Jamaica Inn,” a Paramount British import starring Charles Laughton with Maureen O'Hara, Leslie Banks, Emlyn Williams, and Robert Newton, opened its Washington premiere engagement at the Earle Theatre. Legendary comedian Joe Cook and his “Laugh Factory” revue provided the stage support.(2)
The Earle featured its own precision dance troupe-much like the still-famous Rockettes-called the Roxyettes. They kept the traditions of vaudeville alive at the Earle until 1945, performing before and after feature films and with guest performers such as Red Skelton and Jerry Lewis.
In 1947, owner Harry Warner, one of the Hollywood's Warner Brothers, visited Washington and told his tour guide Julian Brylawski (one of the original builders) that since he owned the theatre, his name should be on the marquee. Thus the Earle Theatre became the Warner Theatre.
|Billboard March 19, 1949|
On April 4, 1968, the theater was almost murdered by the Martin Luther King riots and looting, carried on without interference from police or military. Being part of an office building saved it, but after the riots, major Road Show first runs were moved elsewhere and the Warner fell on hard times, and was boarded up.
In the early 1970s, the Theatre fell into disrepair and disrepute, even functioning briefly as a pornographic movie theater.
By the mid-1970s, the Theatre blossomed anew, mainly as a destination for concerts.
Following a $10 million renovation in 1992, its grand lobby, balconies and large auditorium make it one of the crowning jewels of DC. Movies, sadly, are no longer exhibited at the Warner.
The "new" Warner-opened in 1992 with a gala featuring Frank Sinatra (in his final D.C. appearance).
It is currently operated by Live Nation.(5)
Jerry performed here on
12/10/77 Early and late shows Jerry Garcia Band
3/18/78 Early and late shows Jerry Garcia Band
2/4/81 Jerry Garcia Band
6/26/82 Early and late shows Jerry Garcia Band
1.)^Ron3853, 2004-03-27, http://cinematreasures.org/comments?page=2&theater_id=31
2.)^tinseltoes, 2010-12-02, http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/31/comments
3.)^lostmemory, 2007-09-29, http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/31/comments
4.)^Vogel, Joe, 2006-04-28
5.)^ Cooper, Rachel, Warner Theatre – Washington, DC, http://dc.about.com/od/theaters/a/WarnerTheatre.htm
6.)^Vogel, Joe, 2006-04-28
7.)^lostmemory, 2007-09-29, http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/31/comments
8.)^tinseltoes, 2010-12-02, http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/31/comments
9.)^Cooper, Rachel, Warner Theatre – Washington, DC, http://dc.about.com/od/theaters/a/WarnerTheatre.htm