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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Adams Morgan in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Ontario Theater

Celebration Through Preservation

 
 
The Ontario Theater Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, March 9, 2018
1. The Ontario Theater Marker
Inscription.  
1950s
This building was the site of Washington's Ontario Theatre, a local cinema that played a notable part in the area's history. Accomplished theater architect John J. Zink, best known for designing the art deco Uptown Theater in Cleveland Park, built it for the K-B Theater chain in 1951. Over the next four decades, The Ontario would evolve dramatically from its original movie theater glamour.

1960s
The theater saw much success in the early 1960s as the first neighborhood theater to show first-run movies: Ontario hosted premieres of blockbusters such as Lawrence of Arabia and The Sound of Music. These were elegant gala-like events. The theater's popularity declined after the neighborhood riots following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

1970s
Responding to the growth in the neighborhood's Latino population in the 1970s, the theater switched to a Spanish-language format. Weekends at the Ontario teemed with activity as residents welcomed this new change in programming. Notwithstanding the success of the new format, Spanish-language films
The Ontario Theater Marker Spanish text image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, March 9, 2018
2. The Ontario Theater Marker Spanish text
were discontinued later in the decade under new ownership. When the theatre was sold to Carlos Rosario, a prominent leader in local Latino affairs, he spearheaded the continuation of weekend Spanish-language film screenings. Ontario quickly became a social center for Latino communities.

1980s
In 1980, The Ontario Theatre served a new purpose for the District, taking on a life as a music venue. Ontario was the birthplace of I.M.P. Presents, started by local concert promoters Seth Hurwitz and Rich Heinecke, who brought music to The Ontario before purchasing the famed 9:30 Club and establishing it on V St. N.W. Under Hurwitz and Heinecke's helm, the Ontario hosted some of the world's leading rock performers of the era, including U2, Duran Duran, Johnny Winter, The Cure, Steel Pulse, and Thin Lizzy.

After Hurwitz and Heinecke's departure and a failed attempt at bringing first-run films back to the theater under new ownership, The Ontario finally closed in 1987. It was eventually divided into various businesses including a CVS/Pharmacy and other small neighborhood retailers and service providers. The building was razed in 2013 to make way for the new Ontario 17 building, a combination of residential and commercial uses that opened in 2015.

The cultural legacy of The Ontario Theatre is celebrated through the preservation of its original corner
The Ontario Theater Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, March 9, 2018
3. The Ontario Theater Marker
canopy, poster cases, signs, and other original architecture elements thanks to Historic Washington Architecture, Inc. and Peterson Companies (developer of the Ontario 17). Govinda Gallery compiled this timeline with stories and imagery to illustrate key events in the history of the Ontario theatre.

Spanish:
Celebración A Través De La Preservación

1950s
Este edificio fue el lugar del teatro de Washington Ontario, un cine local que ha jugado notable parte de la historia del área. El realizado arquitecto John J. Zink, mejor conocido por diseñar el Art Deco del Uptown Theater en Cleveland Park, lo construyó para la cadena de teatros K-B en el año 1951. En las próximas cuatro décadas El Ontario habria evolucionado dramáticamente de su glamour de sala de cine originales.

1960s
El teatro vio mucho éxito en la década de 1960 como el primer teatro de barrio para mostrar películas de estreno; Ontario fue sede de los estrenos de superproducciones como Lawrence de Arabia y el sonido de la música . Estos eran eventos elegantes como de gala. La popularidad del teatro se redujo después de los disturbios en el barrio tras el asesinato del Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. en 1968.

1970s
En respuesta al crecimiento de la pobación latina del barrio en la década de 1970, el teatro cambió
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a un formato en castellano. Los fines de semana en el Ontario estaban llenos de actividad mientras que los residentes daban la bienvenida a este nuevo cambio en la programación. A pesar del éxito del nuevo formato, las películas en castellano se interrumpieron a finales de la década debido a un nuevo propietario. Cuando el teatro se vendió a Carlos Rosario, un líder prominente en los asuntos latinos locales, él encabezó la continuación de la proyección de películas en castellano de fin de semana. Ontario se convirtió rápidamente en un centro social para la comunidad latina.

1980s
En 1980, El Teatro Ontario sirvió un nuevo propósito para el distrito, tomando una nueva vida como un lugar de música. Ontario fue lugar de nacimiento de una famosa serie de conciertos iniciado por unos promotores locales Seth Hurwitz y Rich Heinecke, quienes trajeron música al Ontario antes de pasar a poner en marcha el famoso 9:30 Club. Bajo el manejo de Hurwitz y Heinecke, el Ontario acogieron a algunos de los principals artistas de rock del mundo de la época incluyendo U2, Duran Duran, R.E.M., Johnny Winter, The Cure, Steel Pulse y Thin Lizzy.

Después de la salida de Hurwitz y de Heinecke y en un intento fallido de traer películas de estreno al teatro con un nuevo propietario, finalmente el Ontario cerró en 1987. Con el tiempo fue dividio en varios negocios, incluyendo
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un CVS / Pharmacy y otras tiendas pequeñas de barrio y de servicios a proveedor. El edificio fue demolido en el 2013 para dar paso a la nueva construcción de Ontario 17, una combinación de usos residenciales y comerciales que se abrieron en el 2015.

La legacía cultural del Teatro Ontario es celebrada a través de la preservación de su cubierta original de la esquina, los casos de carteles, señales y otros elementos de la arquitectura original gracias a Washington Architecture, Inc y Peterson Companies (desarrollador del Ontario 17). Govinda Gallery curador de esta línea de tiempo con historias e imágenes para ilustrar los eventos clave en la historia del Teatro Ontario.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, MusicEntertainmentHispanic AmericansIndustry & Commerce.
 
Location. 38° 55.483′ N, 77° 2.351′ W. Marker is in Adams Morgan in Washington, District of Columbia. Marker is at the intersection of Columbia Road Northwest and 17th Street Northwest, on the right when traveling east on Columbia Road Northwest. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2550 17th Street Northwest, Washington DC 20009, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Latino Community (within shouting distance of this marker); Lanier Heights (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Songs (about 700 feet away); Works For Piano And Orchestra (about 700 feet away); Nocturns (about 700 feet away); Preludes (about 700 feet away); Sonatas (about 700 feet away); Polonaises (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Adams Morgan.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 7, 2019. It was originally submitted on March 9, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 74 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on March 9, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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Aug. 4, 2020