In 1923, the Chevy Chase Theatre was built, with a 1200 seat auditorium and a pipe organ to accompany silent movies. Over the years the theater evolved with the times, adding sound systems, air conditioning, and a second auditorium, and changed ownership several times. But in 2001, bankruptcy threatened the theater’s survival. Instead of letting it disappear from the community however, a group of neighbors formed a non-profit to save this piece of DC history.
“The Avalon Theatre Project was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in November 2001, and with fundraising help from foundations, the D.C. government and many individuals, restoration of the building began in October 2002. The Avalon reopened to great excitement on April 23, 2003.”
Thus, we are celebrating not only the 100 year anniversary of the Theatre, but also the 20 year anniversary of the Avalon Theatre non-profit organization. There’s one more exciting anniversary at the Avalon, however, as the programming extends beyond showing films. The mission of the non-profit extends to education as well, and for the first time since before the pandemic, students are returning for the “Cinema Classroom” experience at the Avalon. This program began in 2013, so the Avalon is celebrating the 10 year anniversary of education at the theater as well.
To commemorate all these impressive accomplishments, the Avalon has some exciting programs coming up. The Avenue will be celebrating a hundred years of film by showing one film from each decade between 1923 and today.
“On February 19th at 10:30AM, In the Heat of the Night, which first played at the Avalon in November 1967, is our selection representing the 1960s as a part of our year-long, special Centennial program, 100 Years of Cinema Magic. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with special guests. On March 19, The Great Dictator, which first played at the Avalon in May, 1941, is our selection representing the 1940s.”
In May, the event will include a silent film with live accompaniment, and a reception at the Chevy Chase Village Hall. All information can be found on their website: https://www.theavalon.org/100-years-avalon/
The Avalon has been a great supporter of the Chevy Chase Main Street and we are so glad to wish them a happy 100 year anniversary!