Movie Theatres in Niles Ohio

Click on any photograph to view a larger image.

To purchase a high-resolution print of any listed photograph on this page without the visible watermark, E-Mail Us
Use the image ID Example: PO1.1023

E-Mail Us Phone: 330.544.2143

Mail: PO Box 368 Niles, Ohio 44446

Home Page

Buildings Tour

Historical Photographs

Historical Stories

White House Gowns

Books for Sale


Calendar of Events

Newsletter Archives


Arrange a Tour

Maps and Directions

Contact the Curator

E-Mail Us

Individual Membership: $20.00
Family Membership: $30.00
Patron Membership: $50.00
Business Membership: $100.00
Lifetime Membership: $500.00
Corporate Membership:
Call 330.544.2143

Do you love the history of Niles, Ohio and want to preserve that history and memories of events for future generations?

Click here to donate:

As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, your donation is tax deductible. When you click on the Donate Button, you will be taken to a secure Website where your donation will entered and a receipt generated.


The Garden Theatre was a forerunner of the modern drive-in theatre.
Garden Theatre, 1916. PO1.1373

The 1918 map shows the location of the Garden Theatre and later, the McKinley Theatre.

Movie Theatres.
From the first time the Warner Boys showed silent ‘flickers’ at Deibel’s Grocery on Mill(State) Street in 1896 with their sister, Rose, playing accompaniment on the piano until the 1960s, Niles has had a variety of movie theatres located throughout the downtown.

The Garden Theatre was a forerunner of the modern drive-in theatre. It was located on North Main Street about where Sparkle Market is now (2019).

Movies were shown in the evening, weather permitting.

Later on this site, the McKinley Theatre would be built, the McKinley Theatre closed in 1960.

The 1918 map shows the location of the Garden Theatre and later, the McKinley Theatre.

It was located on North Main Street about where Sparkle Market is now (2019). Later on this site, the McKinley Theatre would be built, the McKinley Theatre closed in 1960.
The McKinley Theatre was considered a 'B' movie theatre, playing secondary movies.The theatre regularly featured two main shows, a newsreel and a cartoon show. PO2.32

Niles Opera House with arched windows.

Niles Opera House with arched windows.PO1.1591

Exploding film cannisters caused a fire in the Opera House on September 16, 1920.

Ben Warner, father of the Warner Brothers, directed everyone to safety.

The third floor level was removed when the Warner Brothers built their new theater on the same site which opened in 1921.

The Warner Theatre was built in 1921

The Stafford Theatre was listed in the Burch Directory of 1912 at 125-133 Furnace Street (East State). PO1.1369

The Stafford Theate rbuilding has become the Park Furniture Company building which will be demolished during urban renewal.

The Stafford Theatre building has become the Park Furniture Company which will be demolished during urban renewal. S11.323

Glass slides with campaign advertisements were often projected onto the screen between movies. (The first commercials?)

Glass slides with campaign advertisements were often projected onto the screen between movies. (The first commercials?) PO1.1123

Advertisement for Stafford Theatre

Jack Stafford's Christmas card.

Jack was the lessee and manager
of the Stafford Theatre.

Bargain movie ticket for the Butler Theatre.

Compliments of Guy Altiero
Shoe Repairing
3 West State Street

Void after September 1, 1932

The Butler Theatre on South Main Street would later become the Robins Theatre.

L-The Butler Theatre on South Main Street would later become the Robins Theatre. It also would close in the 1960s. Photo ca 1935.

R-The Warner Theatre also fell into disrepair.

By the 1960s all the movie theatres in Niles were closed. All were demolished except for the Robins Theatre which stands empty and unused on Main Street (2023).

The Robins Theater is being demolished as of October 2023.

The Warner Theatre also fell into disrepair.


The Butler Theatre ad for a silent film in 1926

The Butler Theatre ad for a silent film in 1926.

The earliest mention of the Butler theatre was September 25, 1924 which is the same year the newspaper was in business.

The last year for advertising the Butler Theatre was 1940.

Butler Theatre History
Grand Opening of New Butler Theatre September 1, 1933

Butler Theatre hosts vaudeville show and motion picture shows. September 25, 1924
Paul Peruzzi manager.

Fiddling-Dancing Contest held at Butler Theatre February 27, 1926.

Niles High School band holds concert at Butler Theatre May 4, 1927

John Perruzzi manager of Butler, April 26, 1929 and Peter Ruffo manager of the Warner Theatre. Pete Rufo would later become the manager of the Butler Theatre.

June 11, 1929.
Crowds attend Butler opening for the first ‘Talkie’ used in Niles Theatre. The seating capacity of the Butler Theatre was taxed to the utmost by the crowd which attended the opening show of the talking pictures there Monday evening.

The management of the theatre announced that the latest and best talking and sound pictures will be shown as soon as they are released.

The Deforest Sound System, recently installed by the Butler management was used for the first time showing the all-talking picture “The Wolf of Wall Street” starring George Bancroft.

Many other improvements have been made by the Butler Theatre and were evidenced by the audience for the first time Monday night.

Reisman's, Robins Theater and the McKinley Research Center are shown in this photo.

Click image to enlarge.

Reisman's, Robins Theater and the McKinley Research Center are shown in this photo.
Photo: Patricia Rickard, October 25, 2023

In late October 2023 the two corner buildings, Reisman's and the Robins Theater, were cordoned off prior to their demolition.

Previously, these buildings housed The Style Shoppe, Loblaws Market, Butler Soda Grille, Dunnigan's Photography, a ceramic shop, Ward’s Costume Shop, a tattoo shop, offices for the Ohio Bureau of Employment Services, and a pool hall and various other downtown businesses.

Robins Theater, 2023

Click image to enlarge.

Downtown Plans Park

Click image to enlarge.

Studied in the Niles Comprehensive plan, the existing buildings, slated for removal, will make way for a substantial public plaza and green space. Its aim is to serve as a flexible and multifunctional space for a variety of enriching and entertaining program oppor-tunities. Niles residents and stakeholders have been engaged in steering committee meetings and the McKinley Library’s Strawberry Festival to understand the highest priorities and favored design elements.

The result – a plaza which will include generous flexible hardscape and lawn space to support passive uses such as lunch or coffee,
play, a stroll, or small gatherings, as well as set the stage and provide infrastructure for organized event use such as concerts, markets, art walks, wellness programming, and group meetups.

The plaza is surrounded by planting with opportunities to incorporate themed or sponsored gardens, sculptural art, provide pollinator habitat and treat storm water.

The existing historic Robins Theater will have legacy architectural elements salvaged and interpretive signage incorporated to preserve an important piece of Niles past.

Finally, the site will be surrounded by an updated, amenity rich streetscape which will provide furnishings and added safety to cyclists and pedestrians, and provide food truck opportunities to support event programming.

Downtown Plans Launch

Click image to enlarge.

The Niles downtown launch proposed site leverages a wellconnected parcel to strengthen both physical connections and environmental awareness at the riverfront site just below
South Main Street bridge into downtown.

Working with the existing topography to maintain least disturbance to the riparian buffer, the plan proposes to utilizes an existing gravel road for watercraft launch with a small riverfront park zone adjacent. A small dock provides opportunity for an accessible launch.

Turnarounds, pull-offs and parking allows for efficient ramp use for individuals and groups. Working with the existing grade, an amphitheater and environmental education center is proposed on the site’s western portion. Pursuant to the river corridor
plan, the education center would house park facilities and infrastructure, but also be an opportune host for nearby school programming about the river’s environment, history, and the nearby wetlands for which a trailhead and trail connections have been provided.

Click image to enlarge.

View from stage into seating area.

View from seating area to stage.

View of ceiling rotundra.

View of balcony.

View of lobby.

Warren Tribune Chronicle, October 29, 2023 with permission.

NILES — Walking through the vacant building on South Main Street downtown, Mayor Steve Mientkiewicz, flashlight in hand, carefully navigated through the remnants of what once were offices. But, as the cool, late October breeze blew through several holes that expose the building to the outdoor elements, the offices no longer looked like places of work, but rather areas left behind in an apocalyptic scene. A stench of dampness filled the building. The rooms were lined with buckets and water seemed to drip continuously from the ceiling. Sections of the walls were covered in mold. Floors that once were carpeted now had only a brown muck remaining.“The water infiltration is unbelievable,” Mientkiewicz said. “Even now, it hasn’t rained for a few days, you’ll still be able to hear dripping.”Whether it be the scattered office rooms or plaster melting off the walls, anyone journeying through the building would never know they were walking around what once was the first-level seating of the old Niles Theater Building.“When people talk about renovating it, there’s no theater anymore,” Mientkiewicz said.

The theater, which opened in the 1930s, has sat mostly empty and deteriorating for several years. Now owned by Niles, the city has begun the process of demolishing the building. Asbestos abatement has begun on the theater building, along with the old Reisman’s Furniture store next to it. They will be torn down in the coming weeks. The contractor completing the demolition is Dore & Associates Contracting Inc. based out of Bay City, Michigan. As some residents have questioned why the city did not attempt to salvage the building, Mientkiewicz said that was not a realistic option.“The city is not in the theater business,” Mientkiewicz said. “We would encourage private development or public-private partnerships, but there’s a reason why for 60-plus years, this building sat idle and vacant. I’m assuming, private developers said ‘absolutely not,’ due to its condition of it and the money they’d have to spend rehabbing it.”


At one point, the building was home to one of the best theaters in the city. In 2022, when Niles officials began seeking grants for the demolition, Ralph Tolbert, a member of the Niles Historical Society said “It was considered the best theater and showed premiere movies.” At one time, the stretch of buildings contained not only the theater and Reisman’s Store, but also Ward’s Costume Shop, a tattoo shop, offices for the Ohio Bureau of Employment Services, and a pool hall among other things. Attorney Curt Bogen had offices in the building. Tolbert said the upper balcony was large and hung over the lower level of the theater. He said there was a large movie screen and families went there on Saturday afternoons for children’s specials. Tolbert said following the Great Depression, many people liked going to the movies. He said the theater was popular from the 1930s through the 1950s before closing in the 1960s.

In the 1970s, while the Ohio Bureau of Employment Services had offices in the building, the first floor had wooden framing installed to level the original sloped floor. Mientkiewicz said he was told that in the 1980s, former city auditor Phil Rickard owned the building and used it as a haunted house. Mientkiewicz said the demolition is being completed with a grant through Ohio’s Demolition and Site Revitalization Program. He added the grant went through the Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, which received over $7 million for various county projects. He said the city had to provide a 25% grant match for the demolition. According to the Trumbull County Auditor website, on Jan. 1, 1990, the properties at 42 through 46 South Main Street in Niles were sold by an unknown seller to Reismans Inc. The listed sale price was $0. Then, on July 31, 2023, Reismans Inc. sold the properties to the city of Niles for $0.


When Niles officials were given the keys to the building, Mientkiewicz, along with other Niles officials, surveyed the building, searching for any remnants of the actual theater. “I said ‘Where is the theater?’ and they said ‘This was it,'” Mientkiewicz said. “We were looking around to try to get upstairs to the balcony and couldn’t find it.” Eventually, the city officials found the stairwell to the balcony. It was behind a closed door, sealed with metal rods and covered with a tarp. At the top of the stairwell sat a secondary lobby, complete with restrooms and a carpeted ramp which led up to a room filled with complete darkness and no remaining electricity. “When we were first walking through here, not knowing where the theater room was or how to get there or what to expect, when we walked up the ramp and shined the light into the actual theater room, it was like finding the lost city of Atlantis,” Mientkiewicz said.

Climbing the ramp into the dark room, the mayor’s flashlight illuminated the clearest picture of what the Niles Theater used to look like — at least half of it. Stretching from the end of the balcony level across to about the middle of where the stage and screen used to be, a floor was installed directly on top of the offices below. Whereas on the ground level, all remnants of the theater had been erased, on the balcony level, an outline of the theater was still distinguishable.

The stage / screen area, with fireplaces on each side, still stood out at the front of the room, though cut in half. Intricate designs could still be seen on parts of the walls though most were worn down or faded. Looking upward, the room was capped with a rotunda-style ceiling. In the middle of the ceiling was a gaping hole that has existed since ‘however old the Google Earth images show,” Mientkiewicz said.

Below the hole, a tarp along with several buckets and old coffee canisters were placed in an attempt to catch some of the water that falls into the building when it rains. “With the water damage and deterioration, the architecture, the plaster and the intricacy is all wiped away,” Mientkiewicz said. The mayor said there was some evidence that a previous owner had attempted to rehabilitate the theater. The effort was to no avail. “You can tell that people actually tried to clean this up at one point in the 1980s or 1990s,” Mientkiewicz said. “The previous owner on the Trumbull County auditor’s website goes back to 1990, so we’re not sure if that’s when the previous owner took ownership of the building and tried to do something, but there was an attempt to restore it to some degree. Then, it’s my assumption that they finally just realized it was way too costly and there was not a return on their investment, so they just stopped.” The remnants of the theater room have acted as an attic for the offices below for decades.


Mural was drawn by Mario Bertolini, a Niles Art teacher.While the theater building will be completely removed during demolition, some of its history was able to be preserved. At the top of the theater, several wooden chairs and sections of the original carpet were still intact and able to be saved. In the projector room, several film canisters were left, though what movies they contained was undeterminable. The largest relics the city has been able to save are two gas-powered film projectors, both of which had exhaust pipes sticking out of holes in the building. Audra Dull, the public services manager at the McKinley Memorial Library, said one of the projectors, along with a few other artifacts, were acquired by the library and are on display at the McKinley Birth Home. “We are going to have on display a projector and some seats from that theater,” Dull said. ‘They will be cleaned up, but they will still be all original.” Dull said preserving local history is important. She said the library looks to partner with the Niles Historical Society and other entities to keep the legacy of the city intact. Mural was drawn by Mario Bertolini, a Niles Art teacher.

“At the McKinley Memorial Library we certainly understand the importance of Niles history,” Dull said. “We really appreciate the good work that the Niles Historical Society is doing as far as preserving our local history and we partner with them whenever we’re able. As a matter of fact, the artifacts will be on display at the McKinley Birthplace Home, and when that display is over, the artifacts will be donated to the Niles Historical Society.” Mientkiewicz said the city is open to discussing a similar agreement regarding the other projector. “The Tyler (History Center) in Youngstown, if they’re interested, they’re more than welcome to it before the demolition,” he said.


Mientkiewicz said that the city will retain the property once demolition has finished and city council will have discussions with Niles CIC to see what’s next. “We’ll try to look towards some sort of redevelopment with a site-ready piece of land,” he said. The available space could be used as an urban entertainment area, which is a factor discussed in the city’s comprehensive plan. “We’re pretty excited about not only taking this down but also having some plans in place as to what this could become,” he said. Down one decrepit hallway of the theater building, a mural showing many historical sites of the city stretched across a white wall. Mientkiewicz said the artist was unknown. The mural contained images of a Niles Firebrick Company plant and the Niles Times Building, both of which have since receded into city history.

In the coming weeks, the remnants of the theater building and the old Reisman’s Furniture store will join them.

View of sidewall.

View of auditorium steps.

View of auditorium steps.

Close-up view of auditorium steps.

One of two film projectors.

Storage cabinet.

Howland Drive-In Screen and Marquee

Howland Drive-In Screen and Marquee

Howland Drive-in Theater.
On the 422 corridor a different type of movie theatre was built, an outdoor Drive-In theatre which projected the movie onto a white background vertical surface. The Howland Drive-In was located across from the main entrance to Eastwood Mall and is no longer in operation.

In the earliest drive-in theatres, the sound was broadcast through directional speakers atop of a pole centrally located in the parking area. Later technology had the sound supplied to individual speakers the hung from each car window. Drive-in theatres nowadays project the sound into each car radio on different frequencies, this allows the playing of multiple movies in the theatre parking lot. In the 1960s, in-car heaters were used to extend the season.

Usually the price of admission offered prevues of coming attractions, sometimes a short comedy and two different main features with the first film being shown again.


Playground Area

Playground Area

Before the movie, parents would take the children to the play area where they could try the Round-about spinning wheel.

The biggest source of income for the theatre owners was the refreshment stand where popcorn, hot dogs, soft drinks, ice cream, chips and more were sold.

Food Service Area

Food Service Area

Back to top
  Copyright©2008-2023, Niles Historical Society, All rights reserved