Photo Credit: VHF
2114 W 4th Ave, Vancouver BC
Located along West 4th Avenue west of Arbutus Street in Kitsilano, and continuously used as a place of gathering, the Kitsilano Theatre at 2114 West 4th Avenue was built in 1913 by architect John Y. McCarter and re-modeled in 1922 by H. H. Simmonds.
A 1000-seat theatre, the Kitsilano theatre showed a combination of live performances, movies and cartoons. The early years featured silent films accompanied by organ music, followed by “talkies” and cartoons in the 1930s, and eventually colour films. By the late 1920s, the theatre was owned and operated by Joseph Langer, whose theatre circuit included the Windsor, the Alma, and the Kerrisdale. In 1930, Famous Players acquired the theatre as part of a chain of suburban cinemas that operated from 1930-1955. By 1955, the theatre had shut its doors.
The Russian Community Centre acquired the old Kitsilano Theatre in 1958, under agreement with Famous Players that it would no longer be used as a movie house. Renovating the theatre took six years to complete, and included enlarging and raising the stage, ripping out the theatre seats and reflooring the main hall.
In the years after the hall was completed, the Russian Community Centre (RCC) hosted regular functions and activities including performances of the balalaika orchestra choir and dance groups, a children’s language school as well as bazaars, plays and lectures on Russian literature and history. In the late 1960s, the RCC began renting the hall.
In 1966 the hall became one of the venues of “The Afterthought”, an infamous psychedelic concert series. It hosted Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, and a host of local folk and rock arts, and is seen as a primary reason the hippie scene revolved around Kitsilano.
On March 23, 2013, VHF presented the Places That Matter plaque at the Russian Community Centre’s Annual Russian Spring Bazaar. Visit: https://www.vancouverheritagefoundation.org/place-that-matters/russian-community-centre/
2114 West 4th Avenue was added to the Vancouver Heritage Register as a B-listing in 2019.
City of Vancouver Report 2018, Vancouver Heritage Foundation Places That Matter: Russian Community Centre, The Russian Cultural Centre website