John Eberson

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John Eberson (1875–1954) was an American architect best known for his movie palace designs in the atmospheric theatre fashion. (This source and many others give Eberson's year of death as 1964.)

Life and career[edit]

Born in Cernăuți, Bukovina, part of Romania in 1875 (today Ukraine), Eberson went to highschool in Dresden and studied electrical engineering in Vienna. He arrived in the United States in 1901 and at first settled in St. Louis. There, while working for a construction company he designed his first theater, the Jewel, in Hamilton, Ohio. A year later found him living in Chicago, and in 1926 he made his final move, to New York City.

Eberson attained national, and even international acclaim for his atmospheric theatres, many of them executed in exotic revival styles, including Italian Renaissance, Moorish Revival and others. The first theater of his to include atmospheric elements was the Indiana Theatre in Terre Haute, Indiana.[1] The atmospheric features seen there first went on to become the gold standard for subsequent atmospheric theaters. Terre Haute is also home to one of Eberson's earliest theaters, the Hippodrome Theatre, which opened in 1915. Branching out from his usual theater design, Eberson also designed the home of Theodore W. Barhydt, the man who commissioned Eberson for the Hippodrome and Indiana Theatres. Terre Haute is likely the only place in the world to boast three Eberson buildings, including his only residential design.


Eberson's Uptown Theater (Kansas City, MO) Marquee in 2005

Many of Eberson's later designs, some executed with his son Drew, were in the Art Deco style. In all Eberson designed close to 100 movie palaces, located in dozens of states in the United States, including:

Others can be found in Mexico City, Mexico as well as in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne, Australia.

A significant number of his around 500 buildings[4] have however been destroyed, as redevelopment and changing taste came to consider the style dated.


TampaTheatre front05.jpg
Le Grand Rex, Paris France Tampa Theatre, Tampa FL The Louisville Palace, Louisville KY

1924, Orpheum Theatre, Tulsa, OK 1924, Ritz Theatre, Tulsa, OK 1930, Midwest Theatre, Oklahoma City, OK


  1. ^ "Indiana Theatre Event Center". official theatre website. 
  2. ^ a b c d "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  3. ^ White, Norval (1991). The Guide to the Architecture of Paris. Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 169. ISBN 0-684-19293-4. 
  4. ^ The Atmospheric Style of Theatre Design - Mendiola, Sister Christine, Master's Thesis, University of Akron, 1974

External links[edit]