Ideal Theater (via NPS / NRHP)
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Ideal Theater (via NPS / NRHP)
Ideal Theater. (via NPS / NRHP)

The Ideal Theater is long gone, replaced by a parking lot for a Domino’s Pizza shack. Originally built in 1912 at 2315 West Market Street just down from St. Anthony’s Church, the masonry theater was noted for its glazed brick facade, monumental detailing, and imposing pilasters. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

Ideal Theater site today (via Google Maps)
Ideal Theater site today. (via Google Maps)

The photo above was presumably taken in the Spring of 1983 when the boarded up building appears to have been a failing adult theater with a large for sale sign on the front. No architect is listed, but the structure lends a true monumental scale to Market Street. The scale can be deceiving until you notice the man standing in front of the Ideal.

I’m not sure when or why the building was demolished but it’s certainly not to be found on West Market now. I have walked by the former site but never bothered to take a photo of the parking lot at Market Street’s dogleg. An empty parking lot just isn’t that exciting. In 1983, the building was judged to be in fair condition.

A much smaller and less ornate glazed brick structure with similar pilasters is on Seventh Street in Limerick (see photo below). It’s currently home to the B.C. Plumbing Supply (which, incidentally has one of the best neon signs in Louisville). Is the resemblance just a coincidence or did this Limerick building once show movies as well? Could those windows once have served as ticket sales kiosks?

Ideal Theater site on West Market (via Lojic)
Ideal Theater site on West Market. (via Lojic)
Building on 7th Street in Limerick
Building on 7th Street in Limerick. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
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Branden Klayko

Branden Klayko

Founder and Editor at Broken Sidewalk
Branden founded Broken Sidewalk in 2008 while practicing architecture in Louisville. He continued the site for seven years while living in New York City, returning to Louisville in 2016. Branden is a graduate of the College of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, and has covered architecture, design, and urbanism for The Architect's Newspaper, Designers & Books, Inhabitat, and the American Institute of Architects.
Branden Klayko

3 COMMENTS

  1. My friend’s father owned the Ideal Theatre. I remember my mother would never let me go there, because they had “adult” films. However, one time I got to go. The movie was “Buckets of Blood”. The owner’s last name was Riess. They lived in Crescent Hill in Reidlonn in a gorgeous big house. I think he had 6 kids. And the grandmother lived with them and we would play Canasta with her. He made a good living from it. I have been trying to reconnect with my childhood friend for years, but with no luck. So, Jessie, if you read this, I am looking for you!

  2. As a child in the late forties and early fifties, I would often go to the Ideal Theatre. The movies were family friendly movies back then…a lot of westerns with Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. They would always show current news, a cartoon, and then the movie. Sometimes a double feature.

    My friends and I always loved getting popcorn…5 cents in a paper cone or 10 cents for a cellophane type plastic bag. We usually had ours in the cone and wouldn't allow ourselves to eat any of the popcorn until the movie actually started. We always said it would "poison" us if we started eating before the movie. Seems like we paid 25 cents admission, but I could be wrong on that. I do remember getting in one time for 3 Butternut Candy Bar wrappers. That was good for me because I ate a lot of Butternuts. The Ideal Theatre was a wonderful place to go back then and I have a lot of good memories. Would enjoy seeing a picture of the theatre during that time period.

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