Benedum Center for the Performing Arts (Stanley Theatre), Pittsburgh, PA

Let’s go back to the other side of Pennsylvania for another trip to the great city of Pittsburgh.  The Stanley Theatre, now known as the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, is situated in downtown Pittsburgh.  The Stanley opened to the public on February 27, 1928 as a Warner Brothers movie theater.  The largest movie theater in Western Pennsylvania at the time, it was designed  by the architectural firm of Hoffman and Henon, a firm that built movie theaters mostly in the Philadelphia area.  In 1977, The Stanley went from movie palace to rock palace when it was bought by  DiCesare-Engler Productions, the Bill Grahams of the Pennsylvania area. Numerous acts played there including Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, Frank Zappa, and Elvis Costello.  Bob Marley would have his last live performance there in 1980.  DiCesare-Engler sold the venue to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust in 1983.  After a full restoration that lasted until 1987, the Stanley was renamed the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts.  The stage is now dedicated to the productions of Pittsburgh ballet and opera companies, plus traveling theater productions.  The Grateful Dead played five shows there in ’69, ’79 and ‘81, later moving on to the Civic Area for the remaining part of the 80s.  The first show that they played there on February 7, 1969 included the Velvet Underground and the Fuggs.  The first picture shows the main entrance, the old marquee still in operation.  The second photo shows the side of the building, the Stanley Photoplays sign still intact, a great reminder of its life as the Stanley and  a grand old movie house of the 1920s.  A wonderful example of careful restoration, the Stanley remains a jewel of downtown Pittsburgh architecture and Grateful Dead venues.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Steve
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 18:51:45

    The Grateful Dead played the Stanley on 9/27/72 and 9/28/72… is this the same venue? Dick’s Picks 11 captures the entire show from 9/27/72 and it’s a classic! Happy New Year!


  2. grosvenorsquare
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 00:48:32

    Hi Steve, Happy New Year to you, too!

    No, the shows that you are thinking of were from the Stanley Theater in Jersey City, NJ. The Grateful Dead played the Stanley Theatre in Pittsburgh in February 7, 1969 (which I see I forgot to mention above, will correct that!) and during the late 70s and early 80s, when they did two, two-night runs: 11/30-12/1/79 and 3/5-3/6/81. Someone posted on Facebook that the Stanley in NJ is now a Jehovah’s Witness hall!


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