Ambassador: No Sale

Auction Fails To Hit Owner's Price For Howard Park Theater That's Akin To The Senator

July 10, 2009|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,Ed.gunts@baltsun.com

Baltimore's historic Ambassador Theater at 4604 Liberty Heights Ave., a "sister theater" to the Senator Theatre at 5904-06 York Road, failed to draw a buyer after owner Larry Gaston Enterprises put it up for auction Thursday.

The sale by Auction Brokers of Baltimore drew more than a dozen people, and bidding started at $100,000. When no one would bid higher than $120,000 for the Howard Park property, the auctioneers said the owner was unwilling to sell it at that price and ended the auction without a sale.

The brokers said they would continue to entertain offers from prospective buyers on behalf of the owner and would market the building through the Multiple Listing Service.

The Art Deco-style Ambassador was constructed in 1935 by the Durkee organization - which also built the Senator in 1939 - and originally had 925 seats. Both theaters were designed by John J. Zink.

One of the first neighborhood theaters to show first-run films, the Ambassador ceased operating as a movie theater in 1968, later became a school of cosmetology and a church, and is now vacant.

The city of Baltimore controls the Senator and has engaged Alex Cooper Auctioneers to sell the building at an auction on the premises at 11 a.m. July 22.

John Williams Jr., a representative of the Howard Park Strategic Planning and Community Development Corp., said his organization would like to see the Ambassador turned into a recreation center, training center or performing arts center for the community but would need funding assistance to realize its vision.

He said the building is not only older than the Senator but had a more ornate interior.

"They're saying the Ambassador is a sister to the Senator, but the Senator is a sister to the Ambassador."

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