Baltimore’s Senator Theatre – One Year Later

It has been more than a full year since Mr. Cusack and his daughter became the operating tenants to the city owned, internationally recognized Senator Theatre. Many Baltimoreans had high expectations that the operators of The Charles Theatre would rejuvenate and revitalize The Senator given the plans presented. However, lately I’ve been hearing from residents and patrons that the state of the theatre in the meantime has deteriorated.

Having not been in the Belvedere Square area recently I made it a point to drive past The Senator this Thursday night. I was literally stunned by just how badly the theatre looked from the street. In my 27 years as a patron of The Senator .

While I cannot call myself a close friend of longtime Senator Theatre exhibition expert and film preservationist legend William (“Bill”) Hewitt, I’ve enjoyed countless films he presented over the years. I was even more fortunate have briefly worked with him (as did my family and several others during 18th month all-volunteer period). Given this and what I’ve learned of the man from others, it’s obvious he was the consummate film exhibition professional, and, a tremendous contributor to The Senator’s fame. I am therefore comfortable stating that he would NEVER have accepted the “black-eyed” appearance The Senator Theatre now conveys in the Belvedere Square community.

Moreover, my heart and jaw dropped as I realized that this man’s “memorial”, placed on the iconic marquee, occupied the dark center section.

A recent article by Adam Bednar writes:

[Mr. Cusack] also said there’s no current maintenance being done on the building because they are waiting for state funds and city approval to begin a rehab of the structure.

If this has been the approach by the tenants toward maintenance, as it seems, what should we expect if they are not awarded government funding they expect to receive?

The citizen-owners of this Baltimore landmark, historic building advocates, film historians and preservationists alike should not only take note of the situation, but make their opinions and voices heard – via online petition, yes, but also at Baltimore City Hall. For what does it say of us if we allow this last remaining, operational, historic Baltimore movie house to be neglected – In a state in which The Senator Theatre and The League of Historic American Theatres calls home?

-Tom Harris


Auction Countdown: 5 Days – See RASHOMON now!

Senator-color-adThis weekend could be your last, best chance to see a movie at one of the “10 Best Movie Theaters In America” (by Moving Pictures Magazine), The Senator Theatre!

Barring any last minute saviour, the last historic single-screen movie house in Baltimore City will be auctioned off next Wednesday (July 22) at 11:00 AM.

While dismissing the viability of transitioning the theatre to non-profit ownership, city official have tried to reassure the community that things will turn out fine – We all desperately hope that means better faring than the historic Mayfair Theatre (whose roof collapsed under the city’s ownership).

So, make plans now to visit The Senator Theatre for a real big screen treat:

Akira Kurosawas restored Rashomon

Akira Kurosawa's restored Rashomon

A digitally restored 35mm print of
Legendary Filmmaker
Akira Kurosawa’s

delivered onto the silver screen
by professional projectionist, Bill Hewitt!

“Brimming with action while incisively examining the nature of truth, Rashomon is perhaps the finest film ever to investigate the philosophy of justice. Through an ingenious use of camera and flashbacks, Kurosawa reveals the complexities of human nature…” Toshiro Mifune gives another commanding performance in the eloquent masterwork that revolutionized film language and introduced Japanese cinema to the world.” – Criterion

“Rashomon (1950) struck theworld of film like a thunderbolt.”
Roger Ebert – Chicago Sun Times

onathan Rosenbaum – Chicago Reader
Bosley Crowther – New York Times
Roger Ebert – Chicago Sun-Times
Variety Staff – Variety

$8 Admission

See for current showtimes!