Campaign seeks to turn Uptown Theatre into DC landmark

When the Uptown Theatre in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of Northwest D.C. closed in March, a group of fans launched a campaign to save its spot in local history by getting it designated as a city landmark.

The Uptown Theatre’s most recent owner, AMC, closed shop due to slumping cinema attendance in recent years and chalked it up to the rise of at-home streaming services.

Fans of the iconic theater did not want to see it endangered while waiting to see if a new company would take over the building, so they launched a petition to get it a historical designation. That petition has over 10,000 petitions at the time of writing, with a goal of 15,000.

“While we can only hope that another movie theater company secures a deal to continue The Uptown’s historic cinematic run, it is up to us to secure its historical place within D.C.,” petition organizer Aaron Bland wrote in his plea to preserve the theater.

The DC Preservation League is putting together a nomination for the Uptown Theatre to receive landmark status in the District.

“The Uptown’s construction was an important event in the development of Cleveland Park’s business district, as it was the community’s first mass entertainment venue and anchored the surrounding community,” The DC Preservation League said in their announcement that they would be submitting the nomination.

Designed by architect John Jacob Zink in the Art Deco style and built in 1936, the theater was the site of the world premiers for Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” in 1968 and Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” in 1993.

“If you have memories of lining up around the block to see a movie, if you’ve camped out in the rain to see a midnight showing, if you’ve clapped and cried in the balcony of The Uptown, please sign this petition,” Bland wrote.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the year the theater was built. 

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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