Olympia Theatre

3353 E. 55th Street,
Cleveland, OH 44127

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Additional Info

Architects: George Allen Grieble

Functions: Housing, Office Space

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Olympia Theatre

The Olympia Theatre was a neighborhood theatre, located at E. 55th Street and Broadway Avenue in Cleveland. The theatre opened around 1913 as a vaudeville house, and had operated continuously as a movie theatre until 1980, when the theatre closed.

The theatre fell into disrepair, and when the Olympia Building was renovated in the 1980’s as apartments and doctors' offices, the auditorium was demolished to make way for off-street parking for the apartments, but the lobby is still there. No renovation was done to the lobby since the theatre closed.

In 2001 the Olympia Theatre was known as the ‘Luce Theatre’ when the film “Welcome To Collinwood” was shot in the East 55th/Broadway neighborhood.

Contributed by Toby Radloff

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

bobwhite on July 18, 2006 at 11:43 pm

Today, I spoke to my mom who with her father owned a candie store at 55th & broadway..she has a memory like many who have written in to this site, except she is 98 years young..and when you ask her something from the 1900 teens, she sits for 30 seconds and then never shuts up…she remembers I would guess everything plus.
She met my father at a dance and they were married in 1930..now that i see this site about the theatre, which she mentioned today among other things from the ‘old days’, i will ask her about anything special she remembers about it…I will gladly pass along her remarks.

raydeas on July 19, 2006 at 1:00 am

When I ran the Olympia, from ‘74-'78, there was a TV repair shop next door. As I recall, during our renovation of the lobby, we uncovered a door into that store-front, which I believe to have once been “Olympia Candies”. The candy store was still making candy during those years a block or so down and across Broadway. See if that jibes with your mom’s recollections. Have you no memories of those years? Thanks

bobwhite on July 19, 2006 at 1:16 am

No…I was not a thought during those years as I came into being in ‘38. My mom was 30 when she had me. She was telling me she went to Rice business college in that area somewhere, she did not know the street..they lived on Steinway for awhile..the candy store was near Dolloff & broadway I believe according to her story..they sold it at some point and her father got a job as a machinist. She went to a catholic school as a young girl until she got her knuckles rapped with a ruler for relaxing them from a prayer position..her father took her out soon after…and went to public school. Any idea what public school was in that area of the city (elementary)?

raydeas on July 19, 2006 at 1:29 am

Seems to me there was a very old school building right on Dolloff, maybe at Barkwell. Dolloff is just a half block away from the Olympia.

frodosbudy on June 16, 2007 at 3:31 am

Yep Ray, got that right. It was Barkwell Elementary! I went to Willow before transfering to Mound, lol. Seems like decades ago, lol. Heck, it was! LOL

Toby on April 1, 2008 at 2:55 pm

I also recall that the Olympia Theater, several months after it closed to mainstream movies, operated briefly in mid-1981 as a porn house. However, there was vocal community opposition in the Broadway area, where people from the Broadway/East 55th neighborhood was picketing the theater, and the porn movies lasted for only a few months as a result. Also, shortly before the Olympia closed for good, someone crashed a pickup truck into the lobby…obviously someone unhappy with the porn that the Olympia was showing at the time. The Olympia closed for good after that.

jmt on July 24, 2009 at 3:11 am

Ray, I worked at the Olympia theater when you were the manager. I was in high school at the time. I worked the box office. My name is Jeannie. Do you remember? I have great memories of that theater. I haven’t seen it in years. Is that building being used at all?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm

The Olympia Theatre was in operation prior to January 19, 1916, on which date a telegram from its operator, W. H. Miller, was entered into the records of a hearing being held by the Federal Motion Picture Commission. It was one of many telegrams sent by Cleveland theater operators to express opposition to a proposed Federal censorship law.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 20, 2013 at 7:57 pm

A page from the Cleveland Landmarks Commission about builder and architect George Allen Grieble lists the Olympia Theatre as one of his projects, dated 1913. It also lists a Gordon Square Theatre (apparently not yet listed at Cinema Treasures) as a 1911 project.

BigPolishDog1951 on July 27, 2017 at 11:37 am

I had an aunt,uncle etc. who lived farther up, off 55th, and my mother wound up buying a Black w/Red Interior 62 Dodge Dart convertible from Grabski not too far from the Olympia….I can remember seeing “The Bridge on the River Kwai” and hated it as a youngster, as a pre-teen, Marshall Thompson in “A Yank In Vietnam”, and as a teenager, Sean Connery in “The Hill”, it was almost a ‘ghost town’ atmosphere by that time….but, I never felt uncomfortable, in risk, and always seemed safe waiting for my ride home….My maternal family had a lot of roots in that neighborhood, going back to the woolen mills days before the Depression….My cousins both attended South High, and I was always impressed by the Catholic High School,Our Lady of Lourdes….“Kid Leo”(formerly of WMMS, now of Sirius radio) is an alumnus..I went to see bands perform in that auditorium…My father got re-married at the Polish National Catholic Church across the street from South High and that bakery ….oh, and a maternal great uncle was the custodian of the Union of Poles social hall on Broadway…cheers y'all

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