Chevy Chase Theater
(Avalon Theater)

The Chevy Chase Theater is the city's oldest continuously operating neighborhood theater, and is a rare local example of an early neighborhood movie house.

The Chevy Chase Theater reflects a "high-style" example of the neighborhood movie house type in Washington. It is a good example of the Classical Revival style of architecture as interpreted for an important neighborhood commercial building. The main auditorium features a stage, organ screens, and proscenium characteristic of movie theaters built during the "silent" era. The Chevy Chase Theater is the oldest intact neighborhood movie theater in Washington and although it has been altered and damaged, it conveys its original design and purpose with clarity and is in good condition.

The Chevy Chase Theater is located within the Connecticut Avenue "commercial island" in Chevy Chase neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Constructed in 1922, it is an attached, two-story, brick and limestone, symmetrical, Classical Revival style building with a modified rectangular plan, flat roof, metal parapet, and large marquee. Its central entrance was flanked by two show windows for the one-story commercial spaces on either side. The second story features a tripartite window at the center flanked by large single windows; the former is framed by limestone Corinthian pilasters and decorative panels while the latter are framed by stylized pilasters and an ornate limestone arches. A full metal entablature crowns the building; its frieze incorporates stylized flowers separated by vertical grooves which suggest hieroglyphs.

The metal parapet has paneled sections some of which incorporate festoons and escutcheons, originally urns stood on top of the parapet. As the theater pre-dates "talkies," the auditorium has a shallow stage, which would have been used by an impresario, and organ screens, which projected the musical accompaniment. Typical of 1920's architecture, the facade is flat and the ornament is eclectic, abstract, and restrained. Classical- and Adamesque-inspired ornament was used in accordance with the national trend in theater design. In keeping with Washington architecture in general, the design is conservative.

Built in 1922, and designed by noted local architects Upman and Adams in the Classical Revival style, this two-story brick structure features limestone trim and Adamesque ornament.

National Register: August 16, 1996
DC designation April 25, 1996



5612 Connecticut Avenue, NW