Rendering of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Film Center (Ziger/Snead Architects)
Rendering of Stavros Niarchos Foundation Film Ctr. (Ziger/Snead Architects)

Thanks to a $5 million grant, an historic Station North theatre is on its way to being reborn as one of Baltimore’s film palaces.

Johns Hopkins University received a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation to turn the Parkway Theatre into a hub for film screenings and education. When it’s done, plans call for the aptly-named Stavros Niarchos Foundation Film Center to feature three screens, and space for live performance. There will be a total 0f 600 seats.

The theater, which is being developed with help from MICA and the Maryland Film Festival, is slated to open in 2016. The new facility will help bolster undergraduate film programs at both JHU and MICA. Both programs were already planning a 2015 move to the former Centre Theatre building, which is located across the street from the Parkway. MICA is also planning to begin offering a MFA in filmmaking in 2015.

Meanwhile, the Maryland Film Festival hopes the space will help them offer a bigger lineup, and more programming, according to MFF director Jed Dietz.

The Parkway Theatre, located at the corner of Charles St. and North Ave., was built in 1915. Architect Oliver Birkhead Wight, who designed a number of old movie theaters around the city, modeled the design after London’s West End Theatre. Playing host to vaudeville as well as movies, the theatre’s ownership changed hands a number of times throughout the years before closing in the 1970s.

The Maryland Film Festival’s redevelopment proposal for the theatre was selected by the Baltimore Development Corp. in 2012. At that time, the Festival presented plans that also called for a restaurant and bar to be added on the ground floor, as well as a new wrap-around marquee.

“This is a once-in-a-generation moment for Johns Hopkins and our partners at MICA and the Maryland Film Festival to reclaim a part of Baltimore’s storied cultural history and transform it into the heart of our community’s vibrant, dynamic future,”said Johns Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels.

JHU’s renewed committment to film is already present in the latest rendering of the theater (above). By putting John Waters front and center, it looks like they’re ready to leave that little arrest in the past.

UPDATE: (10.21, 10 a.m.) An initial version of this story said Johns Hopkins would offer a MFA in filmmaking in 2015. In fact, MICA will offer the new MFA program. We regret the error.

Stephen Babcock

Stephen Babcock is the editor of Baltimore and an editor-at-large of Baltimore Fishbowl.