The American Theatre Architecture Archive is the largest facility of its kind in the United States. The Archive contains information on more than 17,000 theatres and covers every period and style of theatre architecture.
The collections contain photographs, negatives, slides, postcards, artists’ renderings, scrapbooks, books, periodicals, business records, blueprints and architectural drawings, supplier and trade catalogues, architectural artifacts, theatre furnishings, ushers’ uniforms, and numerous other items relating to theatre buildings and their history. To browse our online catalogue, click here.
Research in the collections is by advance appointment only and research fees apply. Please note the Archives is not currently handicapped accessible.
Collection by Title
Artifacts/Objects: A variety of miscellaneous three-dimensional objects from or relating to theatres, including: music stands, a conductor’s podium usher uniforms, uniform “logo” buttons, theatre seats and seat end standards, exit and lounge signs, bronze and crystal light fixtures, decorative items, anniversary and commemorative items, organ grilles, a playroom door, architectural and terra cotta fragments, drapery and drapery tassels, carpet fragments, ticket box/chopper, poster cases, advertising displays, stage switchboard nameplates, marquee letters, a neon sign, architectural renderings, artistic models and paintings, projectors and projection equipment, etc. (Partially indexed.)
Balaban & Katz Collection: Corporate records of the Midwest theatre chain from the 1930s, promotional literature, and several thousand blueprint sheets of theatres managed by them. (Blueprints are stored with and included in the index of the Blueprint Collection, paper materials are unprocessed. Not indexed.)
Fred Beall Collection: Collection compiled by THS member Fred Beall, primarily photographs with a wide geographic range. Also includes clippings, tapes, and books. (Donated 10/2008, unprocessed. Not indexed.)
The Bill Benedict Collection contains 2,720 photographic slides taken by Bill Benedict detailing numerous views of the interiors and exteriors of theatres. The collection mainly depicts theatres in the Midwest, though there are a significant number of slides from theatres in other regions of the United States and a small number from Toronto, Canada
Blueprint Collection: Collection of architectural drawings of theatres around the country. (Indexed.)
Nat Brandt Collection: The research files compiled by Nat Brandt in the course of writing his book “Chicago Death Trap: The Iroquis Theatre fire of 1903 pub. 2003, Southern Illinois University Press. (Not indexed).
Lyman Brenneman Collection: 5 boxes of materials relating to stage and theatre lighting, stage equipment, electrical equipment, and projection equipment. (Index in progress.)
Robert Brubaker Collection: Research compiled by Robert Brubaker in the course of writing a book. The book was never published. (Not indexed).
Chicago Architectural Photographing Co Collection 1,400 views of 255 theatres, mostly in the Midwest and many are contemporaneous to the opening of the buildings, done mostly for Rapp & Rapp and Paramount Publix Theatres. Mostly 8×10 film negative but some 8×10 glass plate negatives and 4×5 copy negatives. (Indexed.)
Bill Clifford Collection: Approximately 25 original drawings and sketches of theatres done in various media by Bret Eddy. (Not indexed).
Bro. Andrew Corsini Collection: Documents, pamphlets and programs relating to theatres, assembled by the late founder of THS. Theatres represented are circa 1880 to 1990 throughout the U.S. Includes several hundred photographs and slides, dispersed to the THS Theatre Files. (Not indexed).
Editor’s Collection (aka Photo File): Approximately 6,000 photographs of theatres; various sizes 3×5 to 8×10, mostly black & white photos. (Indexed, hard copy only.)
Eric Ellis Collection: Approximately 2,010 35mm color slides in cardboard or plastic mounts. (Partially indexed.)
Jim Foley Collection: Approximately 400 35mm color slides. (Not indexed.)
Edward Gibbs Collection Approximately 3,400 35mm color slides in cardboard mounts. (Indexed.)
Ray Gingell Collection: Approximately 55 black & white photographs of the Hiser Theatre, Bethesda MD. (Not indexed.)
Gene Gladson Collection: Approximately 1,045 35mm color slides in cardboard mounts. (Not indexed.)
Ben M. Hall Collection: Documents, pamphlets and programs covering the development of movie theatres and the growth of the motion picture exhibition business, assembled by the late founder of THS. Theatres represented are circa 1880 to 1970 throughout the U.S. Includes several hundred photographs and slides, dispersed to the THS Theatre Files. The collection also includes some artifacts. (Not indexed).
Terry Helgesen Collection contains 26 oversize scrapbooks, some correspondence, several draft chapters of a book on theatres, and an oil painting of a young Terry Helgesen. The scrapbooks consist of photographs and drawings of theatres collected by THS member Terry Helgesen with his descriptions of the theatres and other information such as number of seats, architect, opening and closing dates, renovation and demolition dates, and other notable facts.
L H A T Collection: 14 records boxes and 12 three-ring binders of materials collected by the League of Hstoric American Theatres. The materials were donated to THS in June 2011when LHAT went to a “virtual office.” Primarily clippings and membership profiles about LHAT members. Donated 06/2011, unprocessed. Not indexed.)
Steve Levin Collection: Materials collected by THS member (also THS Board member, Editor, President at various times) and sent to THS after his death in Dec 2008. Collection includes artifacts, slides, and photographs. (Donated 2/2009, unprocessed. Not indexed.)
Loews Collection: Approximately 2,235 photographs; also blueprints, in-house publications, including the “Lo Down,” and other material on Loews Theatres across the country. More than 25 linear feet. (Blueprints are stored with and included in the index of the Blueprint Collection, photos are dispersed in Theatre Files, paper materials are unprocessed. Photos indexed, hard copy only.)
Michael Miller Collection Consists of 10,000 35mm slides mainly color and primarily in the New York City area. The Michael Miller Collection also includes his index of New York City theatres occupying 9 linear feet of space, approximately 1,088 snapshots (mainly color), and approximately 1,200 35mm negatives of the preceding snapshots with some additional views. (The slides are indexed, snapshots are indexed (hard copy only) and the negatives are not indexed.)
Paul S. Moore Collection: 4 boxes (approx. 1 cu.ft. ea.) containing 1,000+ files of research material (all photocopies) focusing on Chicago theatres and nickelodeons, but also including some files on New York City, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Milwaukee, Detroit, Orlando, Tampa, Cleveland, Toledo, St. Louis, Louisville, and Seattle. There are also a handful of subject files on theatre chains, etc. Also, a hard copy of his “Chicago Theatres 1871 – 1940,” a 550-page compilation of his research on Chicago theatres sorted chronologically, by theatre chain, by architect, by name, and by address. Additionally, approximately 70 color snapshots of Chicago, Cincinnati and Indianapolis theatres.
New England Special Collection (aka MGM): Approximately 608 3×4.5 black & white snapshots mounted on 5×8 cardstock reports on MGM theatres. (Indexed, hard copy only).
Bill Peterson Collection: Approximately 1,100 black & white photographs in 7 scrapbooks. Primarily of West Coast theatres. (Indexed.)
Lee Sievan Collection This collection contains 60 ink drawings of theatres by Anthony Dumas, collected by Lee Sievan. The drawings are primarily theatre exteriors in the state of New York. Fifty-three of the 60 drawings are original artwork. (Indexed.)
Subject Files: 17 file of reference files organized alphabetically by subject name. These may include architects and architectural firms, theatre supply companies, theatre corporations and owners, theatre furniture companies, theatre personnel, theatre equipment (i.e. projection, lighting, etc.), theatre restoration companies, etc. Files may contain advertising, newspaper clippings, personal reminiscences, theses/dissertations, photos from various sources, legal and corporate documents, and other paper materials related to the subject. (Hard copy only; Card Catalog cards.)
Theatre Files: 118 file drawers of reference files organized alphabetically by state-city-theatre name. Files may include advertising, news clippings, playbills/stage bills, lease documents, historic register nominations, personal reminiscences, theses/dissertations, photos from various sources, legal documents, and other paper materials related to the theatres. The files include approximately 9,000 photographs of theatres from various sources. Mostly 4×6 color snapshots, also 3×5 color and black & white snapshots and 8×10 black white photographs. Not indexed. Some images from other THSA collections. (Hard copy only; Card Catalog cards.)
THS Editor’s Collection approximately 6,000 photographs of theatres; various sizes 3×5 to 8×10, mostly black & white photos. Indexed.
THS Library: 770 books on theatre architecture and related subjects including movies and movie exhibition. (Some titles may have more than one copy and/or edition.) Also included in this collection are 120 videos and DVDs, most are commercially produced with a few amateur videos and image DVDs. (Indexed.)
THS Negative Collection: Approximately 6,000 negatives of more than 1,600 theatres. Mostly black & white and 4×5, but also some 35mm and 8×10 negatives. Many of the negatives are contemporaneous to the opening of the building. Indexed.
THS Postcard Collection: 1,500 vintage postcards; street scenes and individual buildings; mainly small town theatres and nickelodeons; exterior views and some interiors. Often the only record of these early theatres. (Partially indexed, hard copy only.)
THS Slide Collection: Approximately 27,000 slides (35mm and other formats, including 800 stereo slides) of theatres from various sources; mostly color transparencies, generally after 1965. All states are represented. Indexed. 9 linear feet. (Indexed, hard copy only.)
THS Stage Show Collection: Approximately 3,450 8×10 black & white photos of stage show sets. (Indexed, hard copy only.)
Jack Tillmany Collection: Approximately 2,500 color 35mm slides in cardboard mounts taken by him and other photographers, primarily circa 1980-1986, of large city and small town theatres in 32 states, Canada and Mexico, with largest holdings for CA (1,400 slides), WA, OR, IL, OH, NY, TX. Fully indexed. Approximately 2,500 negatives, primarily large format, circa 1900-1980. Consists almost entirely of California theatres, the majority in the Bay Area. Approximatley 100 8×10″ prints (from negative) of views, some correspond to the negatives in the collection and others are from negatives retained by the donor. (Indexing/Processing in progress.)
Jeffery Weiss Collection: Approximately 280 35mm color slides in cardboard mounts, not indexed; 120 127-size transparencies in plastic mounts. (Not indexed.)
John Wright Collection: 55 record boxes of materials, primarily photographs, collection by THS member John Wright. Most of the materials relate to New York City theatres, primarily 42nd St theatres. The materials were donated by John’s niece about a year after John’s death. (Donated 4/2011, box lists in process. Not indexed.)