The Loew’s Broad Theatre actually began its life as the James Theatre, the pride and joy of Columbus showman William M. (Billy) James.
Mr. James opened the successful
vaudeville house The Broadway at 31 W. Broad Street in 1911. Ten years later he
decided Columbus was in need of its first elaborate movie palace and spent more
than a million dollars constructing the James Theatre right next door at 41 W.
On March 28, 1921 the 3000-seat James
Theatre opened its doors with “You
Can Never Tell” (1920), starring Bebe Daniels and Jack Mulhall. The
Columbus Dispatch raved about the theatre in the next afternoon’s
edition: “The elaborate theatre itself formed perhaps the chief thrill and
interest of the evening, revealing itself to the incoming crowds in a splendor
of wide arrangement, beauty of architectural detail and brilliance of lighting
Less than seven years later Mr. James
sold the James Theatre to Loew’s and United Artists. It reopened on Sunday,
August 21, 1927 with a new name: the Loew’s Broad. The first program under the
new ownership featured Lillian Gish in MGM’s “Annie
Laurie” (1927) and a stage show featuring the Ritz Brothers.
William James died of heart disease on
March 24, 1941. His beloved theatre closed its doors forever twenty years later
on March 31, 1961. The building was razed to make room for the Huntington Trust
Building, which today occupies the site at 41 W. Broad Street.
Information taken from
“Those Wonderful Old Downtown Theaters”
By Phil Sheridan, 1978