Varsity Theater

41 S. Court Street,
Athens, OH 45701

Unfavorite 3 people favorited this theater

Additional Info

Functions: Restaurant

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Nearby Theaters

Varsity Theater

The Varsity Theater opened in 1949 across the street from the Athena Theater. It operated into the 1970’s. Usually kept cleaner than the Athena Theater. Large marquee over sidewalk featuring hundreds of chaser lights.

Contributed by bgraham

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

DonSolosan
DonSolosan on September 14, 2008 at 3:45 am

To confirm what I wrote yesterday: yes, this lovely theater had the honor of being turned into the world’s largest Taco Bell. It was already closed when I arrived in town, so I never got the chance to see a movie there.

I have also learned that the Taco Bell closed in 2007. No news on what has moved into the space…

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 23, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Boxoffice Magazine of September 24, 1949, included the Varsity in its list of recently opened theaters. The new house had 550 seats, and was being operated by Mike Chikiris.

DonSolosan
DonSolosan on July 13, 2009 at 3:32 pm

LM, you have too much free time on your hands!

OUResHouse
OUResHouse on August 11, 2009 at 11:53 am

Actually, the Varsity was located in the current Chipotle location. The address is 41 South Court Street. Taco Bell was in the location before Chipotle.

Here is a link to a picture. Notice the brick work above the sign…
View link

DonSolosan
DonSolosan on August 11, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Kitch would appear to be correct. The Chipotle building matches the Varsity/Taco Bell pictures, minus the marquee. Good catch.

dslentz
dslentz on June 26, 2011 at 3:16 pm

The Varsity did become a Taco Bell, then it was totally rehabbed after TB moved out and became a Chipotle in about 2008. To the left of the Varsity in the early 80’s was Mr. Bojangles bar. To the right was an alley, and a Woolworths (which has long since closed).

Across the street was The Athena. Unlike the single screen Varsity, they had taken that larger theater with a balcony and cut it into three screens. The balcony (2nd floor theater) was wide but not very deep (basically the screen was placed just past where the balcony railing ended. The lower part of the auditorium was split down the middle. In the late 1990’s The Athena was near closing when Ohio University purchased it and did a great job updating it (including the marque). It’s owned by O.U. and still operated as a theater. The university still uses it on occasion for events like the Athens Film Festival.

Also built in/near Athens was a multi-screen theater out past the University Mall. Plus Joe Edwards of Nelsonville (owner of the cable system, grocery store, radio stations, etc. in that small town) built a multi-screen theater near his radio stations between Athens and Nelsonville.

dslentz
dslentz on June 26, 2011 at 3:17 pm

The Varsity did become a Taco Bell, then it was totally rehabbed after TB moved out and became a Chipotle in about 2008. To the left of the Varsity in the early 80’s was Mr. Bojangles bar. To the right was an alley, and a Woolworths (which has long since closed).

Across the street was The Athena. Unlike the single screen Varsity, they had taken that larger theater with a balcony and cut it into three screens. The balcony (2nd floor theater) was wide but not very deep (basically the screen was placed just past where the balcony railing ended. The lower part of the auditorium was split down the middle. In the late 1990’s The Athena was near closing when Ohio University purchased it and did a great job updating it (including the marque). It’s owned by O.U. and still operated as a theater. The university still uses it on occasion for events like the Athens Film Festival.

Also built in/near Athens was a multi-screen theater out past the University Mall. Plus Joe Edwards of Nelsonville (owner of the cable system, grocery store, radio stations, etc. in that small town) built a multi-screen theater near his radio stations between Athens and Nelsonville.

rrettino
rrettino on June 17, 2015 at 5:37 am

I worked here as a projectionist when I was a student at OU during the mid 70’s. The manager was a very nice gentleman by the name of Larry Baker. It was owned by Chakers Theatres at the time. They ran dual projectors with 6'000 foot reels usually necessitating only one changeover per show.The lamp houses were under powered and there was never enough light on the screen.Some nights I worked as a projectionist/manager which meant all my friends came to the movies on those nights.

Bogombo
Bogombo on May 10, 2018 at 4:52 am

I had the sad honor of being the last projectionist at the Varsity for the last year it was open. I ran the last movie there when it closed on my birthday in 1989. We ordered a 16mm print of the first movie that showed there when she opened in 1949. It was called “Tulsa”. The OU film department managed to rig up a 16mm projector next to our 35mm twin changover projectors and we had a going away party for the old girl. Oh man, 29 years ago it doesn’t seem possible.

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