The Nixon Theatre

The Nixon Theatre

From it's Grand Opening on December 7, 1903 until the final stage performance on April 30, 1950, the Nixon Theater was one of Pittsburgh finest playhouses. Built by Samuel F. Nixon, the theatre was located on the corner of Sixth Avenue and William Penn Place. The theatre was described at the time as the "world's most perfect playhouse".

The Nixon Theatre

An ornate Beaux Arts structure, crowned by a large dome, it was arguably the most opulent theater in city history. The ornate interior was designed in the Louis XVth style, with acoustically-treated walls. Inside the theatre were massive imitation marble columns capped with solid gold. The side walls were paneled to look like damask silk, framed in a molding and styling of green, gold, and red. Velvet and silk draperies added to the decorum.

The Nixon Theatre
The Nixon Theatre hosted the play "Picket's, Please" in April 1938.

The Nixon Theatre hosted many of the feature artists of the time and hosted several elaborate stage shows. Productions such as the 1905 staging of "Ben Hur" used four horse-drawn chariots, while "Garden of Allah" called for a herd of camels, horses, goats and fifty camel drivers. A frequent attraction in the 1920s was Florence Ziegfeld's Follies. The final show at the playhouse was Mae West's "Diamond Lil."

The Nixon Theatre
The Nixon Theatre on the day of the final performance - April 30, 1950.

The site at Sixth Avenue and William Penn Place was sold to the Aluminum Company of America in 1950. The theatre was demolished to make way for the Alcoa's landmark corporate headquarters, the Alcoa Building. A second, less glamorous movie house, located on Liberty Avenue, carried the name "Nixon Theatre" from 1950 until it's closing in 1975.

The Nixon Theatre    The Nixon Theatre
Postcards from the 1930s showing the Nixon Theatre on Sixth Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh.

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