The Loew’s Broad Theatre, Columbus, Ohio

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. Broad Street.

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 effects.”

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