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The first movie theaters in Cleveland consisted of converted storefronts with sawed-off telephone poles substituting for chairs and bedsheets acting as screens. In 1905, Clevelanders marveled at moving images at Rafferty's Monkey House while dodging real monkeys and raccoons that wandered freely through the bar. By the early 1920s, a collection of marvelous movie palaces like the Stillman Theater lined Euclid Avenue, but they survived for just two generations. Clevelanders united to save the State, Ohio and Allen Theaters, among others, as wrecking balls converged for demolition. Those that remain compose one of the nation's largest performing arts centers. Alan F. Dutka shares the remarkable histories of Cleveland's downtown movie theaters and their reemergence as community landmarks.
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