MHP to Restore Historic Flower Theater Façade

Silver Spring-based nonprofit Montgomery Housing Partnership (MHP) will reconstruct the historic façade of the former Flower Theater in the Long Branch neighborhood, restoring it to its 1950s condition.

Among the repairs are replacing the iconic Flower neon sign on top of the theater, relighting the marquee, and restoring the ticket booth. Approximately 9 weeks will be needed to complete the project, which has been in the works for more than three years.

The announcement comes on the heels of MHP opening its newly renovated Colonnade at the Creek apartment complex in Takoma Park.

The Flower Theater at 8725 Flower Ave. operated as a movie theater until it closed in 1996. The building has either been vacant or occupied by a place of worship since then. The theater is currently occupied by the Iglesia Jesus es Vida church, led by Pastor Hamilton da Silva.

The theater’s neon sign and marquee have been dark for many years, creating public safety issues and underutilized space, MHP said in a press release. The Long Branch community has sought to find an expanded use for the theater space that will draw people to the neighborhood and serve as a community gathering place since the theater closed. Through the rehab of the facade, MHP hopes to spur further investment in the theater and make it more feasible for future commercial tenants to operate there.

“In its current state, the Flower Theater has been a drag in the commercial strip, but the building has the potential to strengthen not only the immediately adjacent businesses but the entire Long Branch business district,” said Chris Gillis, Director of Policy & Neighborhood Development for MHP. “We are excited to breathe new life into the theater and create the conditions that will allow it to become an anchor of the community once again.”

A $75,000 Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD) grant activated the project in 2021. DHCD, Montgomery County Department of Housing & Community Affairs, Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation, Cafritz Foundation, and MHP are all contributing to the approximately $400,000 project.

Bethesda-based Donohoe is serving as the general contractor on the project. Amee Bearne, AICP, a former employee of MHP who lives in Long Branch, is serving as project manager.

“Donohoe is excited for the opportunity to revitalize a historic part of Silver Spring’s Long Branch community,” said Hunter Gardner, assistant project manager of Donohoe Construction.

MHP looks forward to hosting the community once construction is complete to permanently relight the neon sign and marquee. MHP and Discover Long Branch will share updates as construction progresses.

Photo Courtesy of MHP / American University Archives

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