There is truly nothing in Baltimore like it; a last remnant of a bygone era. There once was a time when movie going was more in line with seeing live performance. The exteriors were brazen, the advertisements were glitzy and bright, the interiors were fashionable, and the seats were deep and cushy. Men wore hats, and women dress. The term Saturday Matinee didn’t just mean an early showing, but a full afternoon where one could spend a few cents and be lost for hours in Hollywood magic. That is something rarely seen today, but there is still one place in Baltimore where one can get just a small taste of it, but might not too if things go as they may.
When the Senator Theatre opened on October 5th 1939 it wasn’t really unique. There were thousands of small movie houses across the country that looked similar. Its Art Deco design was fashionable, its neon signs typical, and its interior glamour expected of a movie theatre. People took the Senator for granted, because every other movie house in Baltimore was just like it.
Not so today, because you see, it’s one of the last. All the other neon lights went out, plush seats torn out, and movie projectors shut off, but not the Senator. The Charles Theatre opened the same year, but that building originally was a streetcar barn, and so didn’t (nor does it now) have the brilliance like the Senator, which from the ground up, is all movie house.
Like our very own Mann’s Chinese Theatre, celebrities have left their mark on the sidewalk out front. Movies have premiered here, stars have come, and the red carpet is still frequently seen on York Road, but it might be gone if enough money isn’t raised to support it. The city offered $320,000 to save it, if it turns over to a Non-Profit, which would mean the theatre would turn into an educational tool as well. What better place to tell the story of the movie and movie-goer.
Sure it only plays one movie at a time, and it doesn’t have stadium seating, but there is nothing like stepping back in time for a glimpse of what going to the movies used to be. To lose the Senator would be to lose a major community feature, a piece of history, and ¼ of the movie theatres in Baltimore City. In other words, save the Senator! www.senator.com