Grand Theatre, Lebanon
Built in 1929 by Jaques Tabet, a poet and theater lover, the Grand Théâtre hosted throughout the years international performances and movie productions.
The Grand Théâtre was designed by Youssef Aftimos and built by Jacques Tabet (a poet and lover of theater) in 1929. The theater was part of a commercial center that housed a hotel, rental apartments, offices and shops. The construction of the Grand Théâtre on the corner of Emir Bashir and Syria streets blocked the original 1878 design of a major thoroughfare connecting the harbor to the Pine Forest at the city’s southern limit. The horseshoe-shaped auditorium of the theatre accommodated 630 seats with an orchestra, two balconies, and machinery for stage sets. A small electrically-operated steel dome slid on rails, allowing the roof to open for ventilation. A domed ceiling with decorated stained glass covered the lobby.
The Grand Théâtre opened in 1929 with a French musical called No, No, Nanette, adapted from a Broadway success. The theatre later hosted the Comédie Française, the Ballet des Champs-Elysées, the Egyptian Ramses Group, and concerts by Abdel Wahab and Umm Koulthoum. The Grand Théâtre also screened international movie productions and catered for major literary and charity events. From the 1960s onwards, it operated solely as a movie theater. Post-war reconstruction of the mid-1990s restored the façade of the Grand Théâtre, adapting the building for contemporary use.
1929: Building of the Grand Théâtre by Jacques Tabet
1929: Opening of the Grand Théâtre.
1960s: The Grand Théâtre operated as a movie theater.
Mid-1990s: Restoration of the façade during post-war reconstruction.
- Sassine, Farès et Tuéni, Ghassan (direction) (2003) El-Bourj. Place de la Liberté et Porte du Levant, Editions Dar An-Nahar, Beyrouth.
- Georges Arbid Collection, Arab Center for Architecture, Beirut.