Reginald Geare

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Reginald W. Geare (1889-1927) was an American architect whose career was cut short by the Knickerbocker Theater disaster (January 28, 1922), when the weight of a record snowfall caused the theater's flat roof to collapse, killing and injuring patrons. Geare was closely associated with Harry M. Crandall and with early Washington theater design. Geare's theaters include the Apollo Theatre (Martinsburg, West Virginia) (1914), the Knickerbocker Theatre (Washington, D.C.) (1917), the Metropolitan (1918), the York (1919), the Strand (1920, Cumberland, Maryland), and the Lincoln Theatre (Washington, D.C.) (1922). Geare was also the original architect selected for Washington’s Tivoli Theatre (Washington, D.C.), but following the Knickerbocker disaster he was replaced by noted architect Thomas W. Lamb. Lamb was also commissioned to rebuild the Knickerbocker, afterward known as the Ambassador.

The initial coroner's jury found that the theater victims had met their deaths because of faults in the construction and design of the building, and held Geare and others connected with its building for the action of the grand jury. The grand jury indicted him and four others on charges of manslaughter, though none was convicted.

Geare took his own life on August 20, 1927.

Of his theaters, only the Apollo, Lincoln, and York survive—the Apollo and Lincoln receiving historic landmark status in 1979 and 1993 respectively.

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