On with the Show

In 1907, A.C. Mayer joined Aaron and Julian Brylawski to open Washington’s first Jewish-owned movie house, the Palace Theater (see below), at 307 9th Street, NW. For a nickel, patrons watched melodramas, comedies, and live vaudeville skits. The exterior was studded with 1,684 electric lights. The lit façade was said to be one of the prettiest sights in the city at night. The Brylawskis later formed the Cosmos Theater Company and assembled a chain of movie houses.

Palace Theatre

The Palace Theater at 307 9th Street, NW

Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Leader Theater

1910: Other Jewish-owned theaters opened in the city. The Leader, shown here at 507 9th Street, NW, was one of several owned by Sidney Lust.

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LOT 12342-10.

Apex Theater

1924: Fred Kogod and Max Burka bought the Princess Theater on H Street, NE, and launched the K-B Amusement Company. Their chain brought first-run features to the Washington area for more than 60 years. The K-B owned Apex Theater, shown here, opened at 4813 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, in 1940. Like other public accommodations in Washington, movie theaters remained segregated through the early 1950s. K-B was among the Washington exhibitors to integrate their theaters in 1953.

Courtesy of Library of Congress

Palace Theatre
Leader Theater
Apex Theater