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M Is for Movie: 1919

M Is for Movie: 1919

Alternate title: "The Blob." Washington, D.C., circa 1919. This glass negative is in sad shape but still has lots of interesting details, especially if you're a movie buff. A very indistinct scrawl along the edge has been transcribed as "Meadus Theater." Extra credit for the first commenter to Street View this. (UPDATE: Put your hands together for Charlene, who was the first to correctly name and locate this cinema -- Meader's Theater on Eighth Street S.E.) View full size.


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Still a theater

That building is still a theater, the Miracle. I recently saw Queen of Katwe there, and while there I definitely took note of the old detailing of the interior. Interesting.

Church of the Cinema

According to Headley's "Motion Picture Exhibition in Washington, D.C.," the Meader was built in a gutted two-story building and began exhibitions in 1910. Seating capacity 497-600. It passed through the Stanley-Crandall and Lust organizations, operating as the New, the Family and, from 1933, the Academy. In its later years the Academy ran triple-feature Westerns and some foreign films. In 1962 it was converted into a church.

Western Serial

The western poster (partially obscured by the pole and the damage on the negative) is for "Tempest Cody Rides Wild", starring Marie Walcamp, and produced by Carl Laemmle (of "Frankenstein" and "Dracula" fame). There were nine serials in the "Spur and Saddle Stories" series. Great poster - very colorful.

That Cross

Looks very much like a Red Cross flag to me.

More H. B. Warner

Warner was also good as the druggist Mr. Gower in the classic "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946). As someone else mentioned, it was typical of many silent stars to vanish or be reduced to character roles after sound arrived in 1927. Some made the transition easily (Ronald Colman, Greta Garbo), some couldn't cut it (John Gilbert, Clara Bow.)

One has to admire the long time success of people like Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, and Fred Astaire for staying popular through several eras in a fickle business. Especially since their careers spanned many genres like film noir, screwball comedy, musicals, and war films.

Family History

Now this is a location I can be pretty sure my grandparents and relatives visited. My dad was born five years later just about three blocks away at 8th & M Southeast (and Potomac Avenue).

In the neighborhood

Just drove down this street Sunday on the way home from RFK Stadium. Farther south at I street is the Marine Barracks, and at the end of 8th is the Navy Yard. I'm sure you could find some photos of those two in the back somewhere.

H.B. Warner

The career of H.B. Warner, star of "A Woman's Honor," is an interesting one. It's often said that his portrayal of Christ in Cecil B. DeMille's 1927 "King of Kings" was a career-killer, but his descent from leading player to bit and character roles was typical of the fate of scores of silent film actors. He had many good supporting roles in the sound era, including those in such notable films as "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and "Lost Horizon." But he did come to typify the stereotype of the forgotten silent film star, such that in 1950 Billy Wilder cast him, along with Anna Q. Nilsson and Buster Keaton, as one of Norma Desmond's card-party "waxworks" in "Sunset Blvd."


It must have been a fantastic deal on Selz rubbers to warrant such prominent advertising by Jacob Gritz.

Is That Bob Dole?

Buying a matinee ticket just right of the ticket booth? And is that store promoting rubbers or rudders? I know I'm a zany old bat, but blocking out the definitive letters can cause confusion for anyone. Carry on.

A Woman's Honor 1916 remade 1919

Quite a story! Melodrama complete with intrigue, sexual scandal & murder. An adult must-see at that time.


I'd be interested to know when we collectively decided to rid ourselves of that hyphen.

[Not to mention "To-morrow"! - Dave]

That cross

Anybody know what the dark cross on white background in the second-floor window is? Anything to do with WWI?

Washington Unscrewed

Hundreds of empty light bulb sockets here. All that's left illuminated is part of the big "M." This place looks to have fallen on hard times.

Ghost child

Love that ghost child in the left corner.
And the way he smiles at the camera.

Dapper Gent!

That great film actor H.B. Warner never looked more dapper than he did on the poster for the silent film promoted on this theater. He had a long career in H'wood, including being featured in many 1930s "talkie" films. In spite of this photo's condition, it's great that Shorpy elected to publish it.

"Suthen" Accent

It's understandable how "Meader's" became "Meadus". R's often just disappear. As a Califonia newcomah, I had to luhn a whole new language.

[The faulty transcription is due to illegible handwriting. Someone thought the "er" was a "u." - Dave]

Starfish Cafe and People's Church

Eighth Street Southeast. The Starfish Cafe occupies the former store of R. Ramir, Tailor. The cinema is now the People's Church. Both nicely preserved.

Meader's Theater

Meader's was at 535-537 Eighth Street S.E. according to this list.

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