Ambassador Theater (Washington, DC)

Ambassador Theater (Washington, DC)

Ambassador Theater (Washington, DC)

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The Ambassador Theater was a theater located at 2454 18th Street and Columbia Road, NW, Washington, DC. It was most notable for a six-month period in the 1960s when it was a psychedelic concert and dance hall.


The Ambassador was located at 2454 18th Street and Columbia Road, NW and was on the site where the Knickerbocker Theater once stood. The Knickerbocker Theatre was designed by Reginald Geare and built in 1915 for Harry Crandall, who owned a small chain of theaters in Washington. It had a curved, three-story facade of limestone on red brick in a Georgian Revival style and seated 1, 700. On January 22, 1922, 98 people were killed and 136 injured, when the roof of the Knickerbocker collapsed under the weight of thirty inches of snow in what was then the worst disaster in Washington. In 1923, Thomas Lamb built a new theater in the shell of the Knickerbocker, retaining the facade, which would be called the Ambassador. By the 50s, the Ambassador was struggling to compete with television and was suffering from low attendance.

In the 1960s, three men in their early 20s, Joel Mednick, Anthony Finestra and Court Rodgers were selling fire extinguishers on college campuses across the country when they decided to go see what was happening in San Francisco. Inspired by the psychedelic scene and dance halls, they came back to DC and decided to open their own dance hall. The first site the three tried to get was a streetcar barn at K Street and Wisconsin Ave, NW, which they...
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