The legendary Hippodrome Theatre was designed by noted theatre architect Thomas Lamb for exhibitors Pearce and Scheck. It was constructed on the site of the old Eutaw House, a luxury hotel built in 1835. The Hippodrome opened on November 23, 1914 as a movie palace that also showcased vaudeville performances. The theatre seated 3,000 and in 1920 the average weekly attendance was 30,000. Sound for the movies was provided by piano, a Moller organ commissioned for the theatre, and an orchestra. The Hippodrome was part of the Loew's Theatre chain from 1917 until 1924, when it became part of the Keith chain. New management in 1931 installed a huge new marquee and other facelift items such as new seats. In 1931 the Hippodrome had 3 price levels - 25 cents before noon, 35 cents between noon and 6 pm, and 50 cents after 6 pm. Under the management of Isidor M. Rappaport, which began in 1931, the Hippodrome gained a reputation as a top vaudeville house, presenting such notables as Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Red Skelton, Benny Goodman and his orchestra, Dinah Shore, Martha Raye, Milton Berle, the Andrews Sisters and Morey Amsterdam during Rappaport’s 30-year tenure. It was in The Hippodrome Theatre that Frank Sinatra first appeared with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and in 1939 with Harry James’ band. Movies were combined with vaudeville entertainment through 1950. The Hippodrome Theatre was one of the first stages to present Vaudeville and motion pictures and maintained a house orchestra at the theatre well into the 1950's.
Business remained strong from the 30’s through the 1950’s with the last stage shows presented around 1959. Another major renovation occurred in 1963 in preparation for the regional premiere of “Cleopatra”. In 1969 the Hippodrome was the site of the world premiere of “Slaves”. Business dropped off during the 70’s and 80’s, and the Hippodrome closed in 1990, when it was the last operating movie theatre in downtown Baltimore.
Now the curtain rises again at The France-Merrick Performing Arts Center at the Hippodrome. This is the culmination of a construction and restoration project that transforms and combines three significant historic buildings and one newly constructed building into a state-of-the-art showcase. These landmarks are the Western National Bank built in 1887, the Eutaw Savings Bank built in 1888, the Hippodrome Theatre, and a new building at the corner of Baltimore and Eutaw Streets. Programming at this world-class venue will include touring Broadway shows and the best of the performing arts.
Other notesHandicap AccessibleYesHearing AssistanceYesCapacity2286
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Theatre Drop-off Zone
A drop-off zone is located in front of the theatre on Eutaw Street.
Wheelchair Accessible Seating
Wheelchair accommodations are available. Patrons should call the Box Office at 410-752-7444 at least two weeks before a performance to make arrangements and purchase accessible seating.
Assistive Listening System
Assistive Listening System headsets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Patrons may inquire at the Patron Services Window near the Box Office. A driver's license or credit card identification must be left as security.
Sign Interpreted Performances
Sign interpreted performances are available at designated performances. Patrons should call the Box Office at 410-752-7444 at least two weeks before a designated performance to make arrangements.
Audio Described Performances
Live Audio Description is available during a designated performance upon request. Patrons should call the Box Office at 410-752-7444 at least two weeks prior to a performance. Audio Description services are provided by Maryland Arts Access.
The use of flash cameras is not permitted inside the theatre. If the use of a camera is identified within the theatre, it will be confiscated. The camera may be claimed at the Coat Check Counter following the performance.
Cellular Telephones, Alarms and Pagers
Patrons are requested to turn off all cellular telephones, watch alarms and audible pagers during performances. Please no texting or use of your phone during a performance. The glow of your screen can distract other patrons.
Children and Infants
ALL PATRONTS, REGARDLESS OF AGE, MUST HAVE A TICKET. With the exception of certain children's productions, infants and children under the age of 5 are not recommended in the theatre. If a child disturbs the audience or interferes with the performance, the patron will be asked to leave the auditorium.
Coats, hats, umbrellas and miscellaneous items may be checked at the Coat Check Counter for $2.00 per item. Patrons will be issued a claim check to be used when retrieving their belongings.
DressAs types of performances greatly vary, there is no standard dress code for patrons. Of course, good taste and discretion are always appreciated. Shirts and shoes are required at all times.
It is suggested patrons leave seat locations with baby sitters, answering services, or other individuals who may need to contact them in the event of an emergency. An emergency message may be relayed by calling 410-837-7400 during performance times, though patrons cannot be paged during a performance. The House Manager will personally contact a seated patron in the event of an emergency when a seat location is provided.
Patrons are encouraged to be on time. Patrons should check tickets for curtain time and date. Typically performances start promptly at the time indicated on the ticket. Latecomers will be seated at the discretion of the management, in consultation with the show touring company. Video monitors are located throughout the theatre lobby for latecomers to use until the late seating hold has been lifted.
Lost and Found
The Lost and Found Department, where lost items may be turned in or claimed, is located in the House Managers Office located on the second floor. Any article that is found is tagged and brought to the Security Office at the stage door. Patrons can claim items Monday-Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. The phone number for the Lost and Found is 443-703-2435.
Loud Talking and Disruptions During Performance
Disruptions are not tolerated. If anyone disturbs the audience or interfere with the performance, the patron will be required to leave, with no refund forthcoming.
Opening the Lobby and House
The theatre lobby typically opens to the public one hour prior to the performance. Seating commences typically 30 minutes prior to the performance.
No recording devices of any type are allowed in the theatre. Recording devices may be checked in the Coat Check area. Notify the House Manager immediately if a recording device is detected in the theatre.