One of the most exciting stories for a historic building in the past year has been the unfortunate closure then welcome rebirth of The Senator Theatre. Read on for Dr. John Breihan’s second to last Baltimore Building of the Week and find more information on the ongoing renovations of this building at the Senator Renovation Blog.
Although it has reigned for decades as queen of Baltimore movie theaters, the Senator was built as a “neighborhood house,” offering only faint competition to the downtown picture palaces like the Hippodrome. It opened in 1939, with streamlined architecture reminiscent of a Chrysler Air-Flow or a Lockheed Vega, and a location in the midst of a neighborhood shopping district (which still contains some other art-deco standouts). For years, the Senator managed to get by despite the megacomplexes in suburban malls. In 2009, it was bailed out by the City of Baltimore and placed under new management. Any future alterations will have to conform to review by the City’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. In an unusual move, CHAP designated the theater’s distinctive interiors (including decorated rest rooms) as city landmarks, as well as its exterior.