Tivoli Square

“A very tremendous respect of scale, variety, and texture; it looks like this is a neighborhood that has been here for 100 years.” — AIA Maryland


Washington, DC

Tivoli Theater, designed by New York architect Thomas W. Lamb, was built in the Italian Renaissance Revival style with stucco exterior, red tile roof, ornate cornices, and graceful arches. It opened in 1924 as one of one of the most luxurious movie palaces in the city, located in a fashionable neighborhood of luxury apartments and retail stores. On the interior, the theater had a large lobby with plaster decorations, marble floors and stairs, and neoclassical landscape murals with
seating for 2,500.

By the late 1990s, the building was vacant and in extremely poor condition. Due to neglect and more than 15 years of water damage, the exterior stucco, interior plaster, and marble were severely deteriorated.

As a DC Historic Landmark, the rehabilitation of the theater was done in compliance with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards with review by the DC Historic Preservation Office. Exterior work included the repair of the original tile roof and skylights; removal, restoration, and reinstallation of the sheet metal cornice; careful matching and restoration of the special-finish stucco; repair of the wood and steel windows; restoration of the original storefronts; and restoration of the “Tivoli” sign. The marquees and the ticket booth were replicated based upon physical evidence and historic photographs.

Interior space of the theater was reconfigured to create an intimate 250-seat theater at the original balcony level, with the remainder of the building devoted to retail and office space. The new theater space incorporates the original, restored ornate plaster ceiling and portions of the wall ornamentation. The original theater lobby was also restored and is now part of the new first-floor retail space.

Date Complete


AIA Washington DC  | Catalyst Award 2006
AIA Maryland  | Honor Award 2006
Urban Land Institute  | Award for Excellence 2006
Columbia Heights Urban Land Institute  | Global Award for Excellence 2010