Filed Under Entertainment

Cedar-Lee Theatre

The Cedar-Lee Theatre opened on Christmas Day 1925. The first movie screened there was The King on Main Street, a silent film about a rich European king (played by Adolphe Menjou) who falls in love with a common American girl during a visit to New York's Coney Island. The one-hour film was supplemented with a number of shorts, including 30 Years Ago, The Marionettes, and A Trip Thru Kimballville

The Cedar-Lee was originally a 1,100-seat, single-screen theater. After being purchased in 1977 by the newly created Cleveland Cinemas, however, the theater underwent a series of expansions that ultimately increased it to a six-cinema facility. Also in 1977, the Cedar-Lee was the site of the inaugural Cleveland International Film Festival, and the theater served as its home base until the festival moved to Tower City Cinemas in 1991. In recent decades the Cedar Lee has played primarily independent and foreign films. It is also known for its monthly midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Throughout the Cedar-Lee Theatre's history, the stretch of Lee Road surrounding it has been populated by a number of businesses. Bygone places to eat include a burger joint called Mawby's, Bruder's Creamery, and Marshall's Drug Store, which featured a soda fountain. These combined with various small food markets, hardware stores, and other locally owned shops to make the Cedar-Lee area a vibrant business district. While the names on the signs may have changed, the area around Cedar-Lee Theatre remains popular with shoppers and diners today.


Cedar Lee Memories Stanley and Hope Adelstein recall going to the Cedar Lee Theatre as youngsters, and describe the restaurants and soda fountains near the theatre that they used to frequent. Source: Courtesy of City of Cleveland Heights
Summers at the Movies Loren Weiss describes going to the Cedar Lee Theatre with his brother during their youth. Source: Courtesy of City of Cleveland Heights


Cedar-Lee Theatre, 1936
Cedar-Lee Theatre, 1936 The movies being advertised on the marquee at the Cedar-Lee in 1936 include Sylvia Scarlett, The Garden, and Murder Case. Also on view is a sign advertising bowling next door to the theatre, as well as the marquee for Burrows Brothers Co., an office supply store that had seven other locations around Cleveland at the time this photograph was taken. Source: Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Cedar-Lee, 1941
Cedar-Lee, 1941 This view of the Cedar-Lee marquee from 1941 includes signs for Burrow's Brothers Co., Fanny Farmer Candy Shop, and the offices of Joseph Laronge Realtors. The movies on the marquee are Rage in Heaven and Model Wife, which starred actress Joan Blondell.  Source: Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Parking Lot, ca. 1928
Parking Lot, ca. 1928 This is a late 1920s view of the parking lot behind the shops on the east side of Lee Road between Meadowbrook Boulevard and Silsby Road. The parking lot remains in place today even though the businesses along that stretch of Lee Road have changed hands a number of times. Source: Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Douglas Building, ca. 1938
Douglas Building, ca. 1938 The Douglas Building at the corner of Cedar and Lee Roads was built in 1924 and still stands today. In this photograph, Marshall's Drug Co. and Metropolitan Life Insurance appear to be the building's two main tenants. Marshall's Drug Co. was a local chain of drug stores and soda fountains owned by Wentworth Goodson Marshall, a druggist who came to Cleveland in 1884. By 1946, there were more than forty Marshall's Drug Stores in the Cleveland area. Source: Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Lee Road, ca. 1935
Lee Road, ca. 1935 This is a view looking north on Lee near the intersection of Lee Road and Meadowbrook Boulevard, photographed around 1935. Businesses line both sides of Lee Road. Source: Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Angelo's Shoe Repair, ca. 1928
Angelo's Shoe Repair, ca. 1928 Angelo Chronis, a Greek immigrant, opened a shoe repair shop at 2207 Lee Road (on the east side of the street near Tullamore Road) in 1924. This view, circa 1928, shows the interior of Angelo's Shoe Repair and a number of its employees. Hats are for sale behind the counter, while a shoe shine stand is located at the bottom right of the photograph. Source: Cleveland Heights Historical Society
2179 Lee Rd, ca. 1935
2179 Lee Rd, ca. 1935 This view of 2179 Lee Road, on the east side of the street several doors down from the Cedar-Lee Theatre, shows Mawby's Restaurant, Fisher Bros., Tincher Shoes, and a hardware store called Stamberger Co.. Mawby's was a beloved local hamburger restaurant that opened on Lee Road in 1926. It closed in 1976 and was replaced with a McDonalds a few years later. Fisher Bros. was one of Cleveland's foremost food retailers throughout much of the twentieth-century. Founded by three brothers from New York in 1907, the chain had more than 300 stores in northern Ohio in 1928. Source: Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Kehres Photographer, ca. 1929
Kehres Photographer, ca. 1929 G. C. Kehres Photographer was located at 2112 Lee Road, north of Cedar Road and several doors down from the Douglas Building. Built in 1923, the building at 2112 Lee also had a Union Trust Bank branch and a W. P. Southworth Grocers market. Source: Cleveland Heights Historical Society


2163 Lee Rd, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118


Michael Rotman, “Cedar-Lee Theatre,” Cleveland Historical, accessed July 23, 2024,