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John J. Zink, Architect

The Takoma Theatre (1923) is one of the earliest theaters designed by John Jacob Zink. Zink went on to design over 200 theaters from the 1920s into the 1950s, many in the metropolitan Washington and Baltimore area.

In Washington DC, Zink designed at least 14 theaters. Of these, only two remain open for film or performances, The Uptown and The Atlas Center for the Performing Arts.

                        Zink-designed DC theaters

The Takoma is the only remaining unaltered Zink-designed theater in DC and suburbs. It is architecturally distinct from the "movie palaces" such as the The Uptown and The Lincoln in DC, and the The Senator in Baltimore. For more information see Cinema Treasures.

  • The Uptown (1936) 3426 Connecticut Avenue NW. An Art Deco-style movie house, originally with 1,120 seats. A 1996 $500,000 renovation reduced the seats to 850, with 300 in the balcony. The renovations also included new wallpaper, new flooring, carpet, drapes, and a second concession stand. Now owned by Loews Cineplex.
  • Atlas Theatre (1938) 1313-31 H Street NE. This Art Moderne theater was built with adjacent stores like the Takoma. The Atlas suffered from many years of decline in the local commercial area and the razing of local buildings following the violent outbreaks after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1988. It closed in 1976. The Atlas Performing Arts Center purchased and completely renovated the Theatre in 2002 as a community-based performing arts center. The exterior facade and marquee are the only intact features from the original Zink-designed theater.

One of Zink's most notable theaters in the area is the Senator Theater in Baltimore City, Maryland. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

  • The Senator Theatre (Designed in 1929. Opened October 1939) 5904 York Road at Belvedere Square. The Senator is an Art Deco landmark featuring an upper structure of limestone and glass blocks that could be backlit in various colors for dramatic effect. In the early 1980s, the theater was purchased, restored and revived as a modern film theater with a 40 ft. high screen. Interior work included restoration of art deco murals of the history of the performing arts. The theater originally had 1150 seats but now has 900. In 2003, it became the first venue to complete the Historic Cinema Certification Program offered by THX Ltd., a company founded by George Lucas. Special skyboxes are equipped with user-controlled digital sound.
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