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Parkway Theater _film center rendering
This rendering shows the planned renovations to Baltimore's historic Parkway Theater. It is slated to become the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Film Center. (Rendering courtesy of Ziger/Snead Architects)

Long-closed Parkway Theater to get new life

Johns Hopkins University will work with other local institutions to renovate and reopen Baltimore’s historic Parkway Theater, thanks to a $5 million gift from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

Hopkins will work with the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and the Maryland Film Festival to turn the 420-seat theater, which was built in 1915, into a multi-functional film center.

The new Stavros Niarchos Foundation Film Center will be used for the study, production and exhibition of film and is scheduled to open in late 2016. It will contain three screens, 600 seats and live performance space.

Hopkins officials said the renovated film center, at the corner of Charles Street and North Avenue, will help to further advance the Station North neighborhood’s status as an arts and cultural destination.

The Parkway Theater closed in the 1970s, but it sits in an area that has recently become reinvigorated as the Station North Arts and Entertainment District.

“This is a once-in-a-generation moment for Johns Hopkins and our partners at MICA and the Maryland Film Festival to reclaim a part of Baltimore’s storied cultural history and transform it into the heart of our community’s vibrant, dynamic future,” said JHU President Ronald J. Daniels in a statement.

The Niarchos foundation is an international philanthropy that invests in arts, health, education, social welfare and other kinds of programs.

“The support from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation is wonderful news and further enables us … to move forward with making Baltimore a filmmaking powerhouse,” MICA President Samuel Hoi said in a statement. “We are delighted to be a part of such an important project for the Station North community and beyond.”

In its heyday, the theater was a classic American movie palace patterned after the West End Theater in London and the Strand in New York, officials said. It closed in the urban decline that swept through Baltimore and other U.S. cities during the 1970s.

City officials and community leaders say the corner is a key component in their plans to develop the Station North district.

Johns Hopkins now offers an undergraduate degree in film theory and practice, while MICA offers both an undergraduate program and, starting in 2015, a new Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking.

The new film center will allow the Maryland Film Festival to greatly expand its reach, said Jed Dietz, the festival’s director. “The center will enable us to bring more great films and filmmakers to Baltimore, host a broad range of arts programs, serve as a cultural anchor for the film community, and continue to market Baltimore as a leading location for film and TV production,” Dietz said.

About Alissa Gulin

Alissa Gulin covers health care, education and general business at The Daily Record.

One comment

  1. I’m a person who loves film. I used to program repertory film at the Library of Congress. The Parkway is exciting news. I’m also a person who loves birds. Please don’t have upward streaming light on the facade of the building or use cooler temperature lighting. I understand the history of glamour and the use of bright lights, but it attracts and kills migrating birds. Bird are an integral part of our ecosystem and provide many services. Their populations are in decline. Can’t we celebrate film and architecture while accommodating other species?