xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

The curtain first rose at the Morris Mechanic Theatre 50 years ago

The uniquely shaped Mechanic, constructed in a rough concrete shell, was long the place to go for theater lovers.
The uniquely shaped Mechanic, constructed in a rough concrete shell, was long the place to go for theater lovers. (Baltimore Sun files / 1976)

Ticket buyers formed a line outside the just-completed Morris A. Mechanic Theatre in early January 1967 for movie star Betty Grable's performances in the title role of "Hello, Dolly!"

Baltimore's new playhouse, constructed in a rough concrete shell, opened officially the night of Jan. 16, 1967. Well-known Broadway producer David Merrick assisted at a ribbon cutting earlier in the day. He was accompanied by Clarisse Mechanic, whose husband, Morris Mechanic, died the previous year, while the theater was under construction at the southwest corner of Charles and Baltimore streets.

Advertisement

Evening orchestra seats were $9. The last rows of the balcony sold for $3.

In its heyday, the Mechanic was a bustling theater venue.
In its heyday, the Mechanic was a bustling theater venue. (Baltimore Sun files)

Morris Mechanic was born in Poland in 1904 and died at his home of a heart attack in the Cambridge Arms Apartments on Charles Street. His Sun obituary said he got into the theater business when he bought the New Theater on Lexington Street and found it was making money with an early talking film, "Sunny Side Up."

Advertisement
Advertisement

He later owned the Belvedere Hotel, the 500-acre Emerson Farm in the Greenspring Valley, Ford's Theater on Fayette Street and the Severn Apartments.

A view looking east at the site of the razed Morris A. Mechanic Theatre, from just south of West Baltimore Street, toward Charles Street. The redevelopment of the theater site has been stalled by a long-running lawsuit with the DownUnder parking garage.
A view looking east at the site of the razed Morris A. Mechanic Theatre, from just south of West Baltimore Street, toward Charles Street. The redevelopment of the theater site has been stalled by a long-running lawsuit with the DownUnder parking garage. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun files)

The Mechanic closed in 2004 as the restored Hippodrome reopened. Among the Mechanic's last large shows were "The Exonerated" with Lynn Redgrave and a theatrical version of "The Graduate" based on the 1967 film.

The Mechanic sat empty for nearly a decade. Its razing began in 2014.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement