Admiral Theater renovation work finally about to start

2016 06-03 Group Hug for the Admiral Theater lowresJS
(Photo by Jean Sherrard, courtesy Southwest Seattle Historical Society; click here to see full-size version on SWSHS website)

Three and a half months after the “Group Hug” event (photo above) celebrating the historic Admiral Theater‘s impending renovation work, the operators of the landmark moviehouse just got the permit they needed to get going! Here’s the big announcement of what happens next, just in from Jeff Brein of Far Away Entertainment:

With all required city ​building permits in hand, upgrades, expansion and renovations of the Historic Admiral Theater in West Seattle will begin in earnest on Monday, ​Sept.​ 19 with completion expected in November.
Moviegoers will be able to see films at the Admiral during the construction period, according to Jeff Brein, managing partner of Far Away Entertainment, the Bainbridge Island-based group that operates the theater.
“Our principal goal is to keep the theater open during this process, albeit on a limited basis,” Brein said. “Initially, weekday films will be presented in a single theater, with expanded schedules on weekends. As the project progresses and additional auditoriums are readied we expect the number of movie offerings to increase.”
Brein and partner Sol Baron have worked with building owner Marc Gartin for several years to plan a history-based renovation of the iconic 1942 theater, for which the Southwest Seattle Historical Society secured city landmark status 27 years ago. The Gartin family purchased and reopened the theater in 1992 after a three-year closure.
The current two-auditorium footprint will expand to four and will feature stadium seating in two larger auditoriums. Additional enhancements will include new, state-of-the-art digital laser projection systems, a 3D auditorium, Dolby Digital sound systems, new seating with beverage cup holders, and upgraded carpeting, concessions area and restrooms.
“Additionally,” Brein said, “we have been working with the Southwest Seattle Historical Society and plan to reveal and eventually restore the original, interior auditorium murals featuring underwater appliqués that have been hidden since the theater was twinned in 1973. We also have been working together on other improvements, including repainting of the lobby and preservation of its 1942 mural of Captain George Vancouver and other artwork. Other less apparent enhancements will include a revised traffic flow pattern for ticket sales and more open space in the lobby, improved theater floor lighting and an upgrade of the theater’s marquee.”
The Admiral Theater project team includes Swinterton Builders, CDA Architecture, and the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, as well as the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board, which approved the renovation in June. Credit also goes to King County Council member Joe McDermott and King County Executive Dow Constantine, both West Seattle residents, for helping secure a $95,000 “Saving Landmarks” grant from 4Culture last November.

The Southwest Seattle Historical Society eagerly anticipates the renovation, said Clay Eals, executive director. “We are thrilled that these many improvements will allow the Admiral Theater to thrive well into the future and can occur without harming – and actually exposing and showcasing more of – the building’s historic features,” Eals said.

“We salute Far Away Entertainment and the Gartin family ownership for their perseverance and heart,” he said.

“This renovation project and the existence of the theater itself wouldn’t be possible without the grassroots effort that saved it in 1989, and the history of this moviehouse, an art deco masterpiece, is a shining example of how neighbors engaging in the landmark process can add economic vitality to the city while building community pride.”

Our archived coverage of The Admiral is here, including our report on the Landmark Board’s approval of the work back in June, and the February 2015 announcement of the agreement between the building’s owner and operators that paved the way for this work.

17 Replies to "Admiral Theater renovation work finally about to start"

  • slc September 15, 2016 (3:21 pm)

    We are beyond excited to have a first-run movie theater in our neighborhood.  No more fighting traffic to downtown or Southcenter!  Hooray!  

  • Heidi H September 15, 2016 (3:47 pm)

    Congratulations to everyone involved in making this happen. It’s going to fantastic to preserve this theater and know it will be around for us for a very long time!

  • Rick September 15, 2016 (3:48 pm)

    All that said, I’ll still miss the make out loft,  errrr  balcony.

  • onion September 15, 2016 (4:25 pm)

    Amen to new seats and sound systems, maintaining two larger screens for blockbusters, and adding two smaller screens for movies that will appeal to a more selective audience. I look forward to the Admiral becoming a true destination theater.

  • Mel September 15, 2016 (4:40 pm)

    This is really great! Now we only need parking!

  • Wee-Bey September 15, 2016 (4:42 pm)

    No need to upgrade the popcorn! It’s still the best in Seattle.

  • 22blades September 15, 2016 (4:56 pm)

    Great news for a neighborhood icon! I hope they are able to bring out the Streamline Moderne like the original vision.

  • MMB September 15, 2016 (5:17 pm)


  • technoluxe September 15, 2016 (5:53 pm)

    Yay! No more seats with springs poking you in the butt! 

  • Mark September 15, 2016 (6:25 pm)

    Very nice.  Looking forward to seeing movies on big screen again

  • Marcus m September 15, 2016 (7:01 pm)

    Such good news!  Popcorn needs upgrading too.  Use ark lodge as the baseline :)

  • Movie goer September 15, 2016 (7:43 pm)

    I will definitely return to the Admiral after the renovations.

  • H September 15, 2016 (8:29 pm)

    Oh I’m so excited!!!! Such great news.

  • dsa September 16, 2016 (12:24 am)

    The Admiral Theater is a treasure.

  • Ilasdad September 16, 2016 (12:56 pm)


  • Junction Lady September 16, 2016 (5:41 pm)

    Very exciting that WS will have a REAL movie theatre with comfortable seats;)

Sorry, comment time is over.