WTMD volunteers to rehab historic Baltimore moviehouse

Posted Dec. 15, 2009
By Steve Behrens

Baltimore's Senator TheaterBaltimore- area Triple A station WTMD and its licensee, Towson University, are proposing to rehab a 70-year-old historic- landmarked Art Deco movie theater into a film and concert theater and headquarters for the station.

The station’s proposal is one of four received by the city’s quasi-public Baltimore Development Corp., which asked for proposals to renovate the well-loved, 900-seat Senator Theater where generations of locals recall seeing Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars and other big film premieres. The theater is in northern Baltimore city, about three miles south of WTMD’s home at Towson University.

“Our goal is to make sure the Senator is alive all day, every day,” says Steve Yasko, g.m.. He imagines school choirs performing on the stage in the morning; Triple A musical acts performing and being interviewed for live broadcasts at noon, with donors in the audience; concerts and screenings of independent films and works by Towson film students, and film retrospectives and festivals at night.

The Baltimore Development Corp. will sponsor a public meeting Jan. 5 at the theater for the four applicants to explain their plans, according to Friends of the Senator Theater.

Yasko’s announcement this month brought tentative support from Tom Kiefaber, the Senator’s longtime owner, who lost control of the failing theater when the city bought his mortgage. WTMD’s revival of the theater “may turn out be a wonderful surprise ending to this cliffhanger,” he commented on WTMD’s blog.

Below: The theater as seen on Google Maps.

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Web page posted Dec. 15, 2009
Copyright 2009 by Current LLC


In Redding, Calif., regional station Jefferson Public Radio restored the 1935 Cascade Theater, 1999. It's now operated as a performing arts center.

In 2004, Philadelphia's WXPN, a leading Triple A station, opened World Cafe Live, a successful music venue named after its flagship music program, World Cafe.


WTMD manager Steve Yasko discusses renovation proposal in the station's blog, Nov. 23.

Baltimore Development Corp., a quasi-public agency overseeing the theater's renewal for the city, received four proposals including WTMD's, according to its press release. BDC announces its request for proposals in September.

Friends of the Senator Theater has a Facebook page.

Following its long tradition, the Senator's longtime owner will play Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life around the year-end holidays.

The Senator is on the list of the 11 Most Endangered Historic American Movie Theaters published by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


Public domain photo of the theater contributed to Wikipedia by Marylandstater.


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