Garden Theater

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Garden Theater
Garden Theater is located in Pittsburgh
Garden Theater
Location of the Garden Theater in Pittsburgh
Location 12 West North Avenue
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Coordinates 40°27′19.76″N 80°0′26.16″W / 40.4554889°N 80.0072667°W / 40.4554889; -80.0072667Coordinates: 40°27′19.76″N 80°0′26.16″W / 40.4554889°N 80.0072667°W / 40.4554889; -80.0072667
Built/founded 1915
Architect Thomas H. Scott
Architectural style(s) Beaux Arts
Governing body/owner City of Pittsburgh[1]
City designated March 25, 2008

The Garden Theater (or Garden Theatre) is a 1,000-seat theater that was built in 1915[1] at 12 West North Avenue in the Central Northside neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Formerly a movie theater, it closed in 2007[1] and has not been in use much since that time, except for a scene in the movie adaptation of One for the Money starring Katherine Heigl filmed in July 2010.[2] The city of Pittsburgh hopes to revitalize the theater, and it was placed on the List of City of Pittsburgh historic designations by Pittsburgh City Council on March 25, 2008.[3]


Built in 1915, and designed by architect Thomas H. Scott and financed by David E. Park, a steel-industry scion and banker,[1] the Garden Theater exhibits an Beaux Arts style. According to a 14-page Historical American Buildings Survey data sheet from 1978, "motion picture theaters became more substantial and dignified than the earlier Nickelodeons. The Garden Theater is a typical little-changed neighborhood movie house of this century's second decade."[1] Bennett Amdursky managed the theater from the time it opened, purchased it from Park's son in 1924, and ran it until his death in 1970. The theater "became the pride of his life," the historical survey states. "He worked at the theatre daily until his death in the spring of 1970, over a half-century later."[1] After he died, things changed. In 1973, the pornographic film Deep Throat played there, and did quite well, and soon after the Garden became known as an adult movie theater.[1] It was a porno theater for 34 years thereafter, until it closed in 2007.[1] Now the city of Pittsburgh is trying to revitalize this historic area, and there are plans to restore this classic theater. The Garden Theater is on the List of City of Pittsburgh historic designations.[3]

Film depictions[edit]

  • The 1979 sports/cult classic The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh used the Garden Theater and its surrounding neighborhood as the home of the film's astrologist heroine Mona (Stockard Channing) to depict a gritty inner city gypsy fortune teller's residence.
  • The 1995 TV adaptation of August Wilson's The Piano Lesson used the Garden Theater in a scene where Boy Willie and Lymon attend a movie in Pittsburgh.
  • The 2010 film One for the Money starring Katherine Heigl[2] uses the same exact buildings complete with Garden Theater marquee to once again depict a gritty inner city former burlesque district. This time, the theater and area around it are used to recreate a seedy Trenton, New Jersey, inner city neighborhood.


In 2007, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh purchased the building for $1.1 million.[4] The theater along with several other buildings including the former Masonic Hall located in the same block along North Ave, were later sold to a Philadelphia-based development company and construction on a mixed-use project that will contain restaurants, shops, and housing began in 2012.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h McNulty, Timothy (2007-05-20). "Former North Side porn theater awaits restoration as a possible arts space". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2010-08-11. 
  2. ^ a b North Side theater is X-rated — for Hollywood, by Bill Vidonic, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. 2010-07-16. Retrieved 2010-08-11.
  3. ^ a b "Garden Theatre given historic status". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 2008-03-21. Retrieved 2010-08-11. 
  4. ^ a b Diana Nelson Jones (2012-01-28). "Progress takes big step on Pittsburgh's North Side". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2012-07-21.