Fifth and Ludlow: From Dayton's playhouse to Lutheran church

The Colonial Theater was built to be Dayton’s premiere vaudeville playhouse.

Built in 1912 on the corner of Fifth and Ludlow streets in downtown Dayton, it was designed using cantilever trusses to support the balcony, according to research done by Dayton historian Curt Dalton.

The trusses eliminated posts so each of the 1,810 seats had a grand view of the stage.

The Colonial Theatre site is the subject of this week's update to the popular Then & Now photo feature, which explores past and present views of notable Dayton locations.

On Sept. 22, 1928 the theater showed Dayton’s first all-talking, full-length picture, “Lights of New York.”

The names on the marquee have changed through the years. The theater has been known as B.F. Keith’s, Liberty and Gayety.

In 1964 the property was sold to St. John’s Lutheran Church, which still stands on the corner.

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