Burt’s Theater, built in 1898, is one of only two 19th century theaters still standing in Toledo. Burt’s originated as a vaudeville theater but later converted to a movie theater in 1913. After shutting down in 1916, the theater was used as a car dealership and several bars. The now-dormant building was nearly demolished in 2013, but it was saved by the Lucas County Land Bank.
Backstory and Context
By some accounts, Burt’s Theater opened on August 25, 1898; others refer to September of that same year. Burt’s Theater hosted vaudeville acts and other live performances before the popularity of motion pictures led it to become a movie house. The building itself was designed by George S. Mills of Toledo in the Gothic Style, heavily inspired by the 15th century Ca Da Oro in Venice. The 1565-seat theater was adorned with a terra cotta cornice, Corinthian columns, Gothic arches, and diamond-patterned brick.
Burt’s Theater closed in 1916. It was then renovated and turned into an auto showroom and warehouse. Over the years, the building also served as the Peppermint Lounge, the Country Palace, the Club and Caesar's Showbar. In 2013, the Burt’s Theater was set to be demolished until the Lucas County Land Bank acquired it. Today, the building still sits empty.
Downtown Architecture 101 Part I. Downtown Toledo. November 07, 2017. Accessed October 25, 2018. https://www.downtowntoledo.org/news/posts/2017/november/downtown-architecture-101-part-i/.
Reindl, JC. Music fades, curtain closes on once-hot Toledo night spot. Toledo Blade. March 22, 2010. Accessed October 25, 2018. https://www.toledoblade.com/local/2010/03/22/Music-fades-curtain-closes-on-once-hot-Toledo-night-spot.html?abnpageversion=evoke.
Speck, William D. Toledo: A History in Architecture, 1890-1914. Images of America. Charleston, SC. Arcadia Publishing, 2004. Via Google Books.