The Avalon is the oldest operating movie theater in Northwest DC. It opened in 1923 as the Chevy Chase Theatre, showing silent movies with musical accompaniment from a large organ. Originally the theater sat 1200 people-- almost three times as many as today. The capacity would have been larger had the planned balcony been completed. Instead, the second floor of the building was occupied by a music school and, later, a ballet studio. In 1929, the theater was wired for sound in order to play talking pictures, or “talkies”, and its name was changed to the Avalon.
For 80 years the Avalon was a staple of the neighborhood, until the owners filed for bankruptcy in 2001. Worried that the theatre would be demolished or converted to retail use, community members created the Avalon Theatre Project to raise money to restore the cinema to working order. With help from individuals, foundations, and the government of DC, the construction began in 2002, and the theatre reopened the next year.
Today, the Avalon is “DC’s only non-profit film center”, showing a wide range of mainstream and independent films, as well as hosting events and film festivals.
5612 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20015