LIttle Art Theatre

2523 N. High Street,
Columbus, OH 43202

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University District Theatres

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Previous Names: Piccadilly Theatre, Olentangy Theatre, World Theatre

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LIttle Art Theatre

The Piccadilly Theatre opened in the silent era and continued showing films through the 1930’s. During its early years, it shared a building with The American Ceramic Society, Battelle Memorial Institute, and a post office. On July 14, 1939 it name was changed to Olentangy Theatre. In 1947, it was remodeled and renamed World Theatre. On September 13, 1949 it was renamed Little Art Theatre. The theatre struggled in the 1950’s, closing in 1954. It became a church in February 1954.

It reopened on May 18, 1961 as the Little Art Theatre with “Lady Chatters Lover” & “Fire Under Her Skin” which heralded the showing of risqué films. As the Little Art Theatre (or "Very Little Art Theatre" as some dubbed it), the theatre specialized in softcore and exploitation films. In the late-1960’s, it began showing stronger fare and by the early-1970’s was a porn theatre. Authorities regarded the theatre as a nuisance and it was often raided by vice officers.

In 1973, the city condemned the aging building as unsafe. A long legal battle followed that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The theatre alleged it was condemned to stop it showing X-rated films rather than for any building problems. The theatre lost and the building was torn down in 1976.

(text taken from A Century of University District Theatres)

Contributed by Ron Newman

Recent comments (view all 20 comments)

DAK8601 on April 11, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Crystal was an early (very early) motion picture theater. Address is given as 2573 N. High. Listed in the city directories under “Motion Picture Theaters” but that’s about the extent of information available. No advertising (that I’ve found).

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 11, 2011 at 9:30 pm

The only Columbus establishment called the Crystal Slipper that I can find references to on the Internet is this ballroom opened in 1926 and converted into Columbus’s first supermarket (and perhaps the first grocery store anywhere to call itself a supermarket) in 1934. This building, at 386 Lane Avenue W., was demolished in 1985.

Crystal Slipper certainly sounds more like a name for a ballroom than for a movie theater. Perhaps the building at 2573 High was also opened as a dance hall, but was unsuccessful and was converted into a movie house.

Mark_L on April 12, 2011 at 8:46 am

The Big Bear Supermarket on Lane Ave. was also a roller rink. While walking around the store, you could see the curvature of the rink.

Back to the subject at hand, these addresses don’t match up. The Little Art was 2523 N. High, which is south of Hudson St. The 2573 address is north of Hudson St. I think we are talking about two different facillites here.

Next library trip I’ll do a little more digging on this one.

Mark_L on April 12, 2011 at 9:29 am

Phil Sheridan’s “Wonderful Old Downtown Theatres, Vol. 3” lists a Crystal Theatre at 2673 N. High in 1911 and a Crystal Palace at 2573 N. High in 1913. The 2673 N. High address is between Dodridge and Arcadia.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 23, 2012 at 5:34 am

This theater had another AKA. In 1947, a Motion Picture Herald item said that the 325-seat World Theatre, formerly the Olentangy, had been remodeled and was about to reopen. Operators Al Sugarman and Lee Hofheimer also operated the Avondale and Indianola Theatres.

Mark_L on February 23, 2012 at 8:03 am

On 9/14/1949, the WORLD moved south to the Alhambra building, and the Olentangy became known as the Little Theatre, playing classic films.

rivest266 on November 11, 2021 at 4:29 pm

This reopened as Olentagny on July 14th, 1939. Small article uploaded.

rivest266 on November 11, 2021 at 9:59 pm

Grand opening for Little Art and World from September 13th, 1949, posted.

rivest266 on November 12, 2021 at 4:22 pm

This closed in 1954 and reopened on May 8th, 1961 as the Little Art with “Lady Chatter’s Lover” and “Fire under her Skin”. Grand opening ad posted

Mark_L on November 12, 2021 at 6:27 pm

The Calvary Assembly of God Church took over the theater in February, 1954.Rev. L.E. Loretz was the evangelist and Mrs. Loretz was in charge of music and children’s activities.

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