After nearly 40 years, the Harvard Exit Theatre will go dark this January. Landmark Theatres confirmed to CHS Monday that the company would cease screenings at the twin cinema mid-January after being notified that the longtime family owners secured a deal to sell the historic building at Harvard Ave and E Roy. CHS is working to confirm the buyer’s identity. UPDATE — Now showing: The Capitol Hill Developer Who Bought the Harvard Exit
Landmark president and CEO Ted Mundorff also said the Los Angeles-based company is pulling out of the the U-District’s Varsity Theater in January. “We’re sad to say goodbye to our loyal customers, ” Mundorff said in a statement.
Rich Haney of O’Steen LLC, the entity that owns the Harvard Exit building, has not returned requests for comment. The longtime family owners have been seeking a buyer for some time.
Mimi Sheridan of The Woman’s Century Club, the organization that erected the Harvard Exit building in 1925 and continues to use it today, told CHS she was recently informed by the building’s owner that he planned to sell the theater in January. The club’s leadership is now preparing to find a new home.
“We don’t have very much time. We’re making a plan now, ” Sheridan said. The building was transformed into a theater in 1968 after the women’s club sold it, though the club has continued to use the lobby through an informal agreement with the building owners.
The Mark Cuban-backed theater chain left The Egyptian on E Pine last year, paving the way for SIFF to reopen the theater in 2014.
As one of the first “art” theaters in Seattle, Harvard Exit primarily focuses on independent film and foreign language cinema. CHS checked in with the theater earlier this year, when a Landmark representative told us everything was “business as usual.”
The 1925-built masonry structure is not currently protected by the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board — though it is said to be haunted. UPDATE: As commenter Josh points out, the building does not have its own protections but is within the Harvard Belmont Historic District. We’re contacting the city to confirm how the protections apply to the building.
Landmark also operates The Crest, Seven Gables and the Guild 45th. In his statement on the Harvard Exit closure, CEO Mundorff said plans are underway to remodel the Guild 45th in 2015 “which further reinforces Landmark’s commitment to the Seattle market.” UPDATE: The Seattle Times reports the Varsity theater will reopen with a new owner.
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