In the Progressive Age (1890-1920), movie theaters were a new and popular form of entertainment. They were being built all over Baltimore, and Hampden was no different. In 1908, Marion Pearce and Philip Scheck (who already owned six theatres) opened the Ideal Theatre as a nickelodeon. Small and simple theaters, nickelodeons charged a five-cent, or a nickel, admission fee.
In 1920, Baltimore City Delegate George D. Iverson sponsored legislation to repeal the law that required theaters to be closed on Sunday. However, the owners of the Ideal Theater opposed this legislation because they thought opening on Sunday would hurt their Saturday and Monday receipts. In 1922, Julius Goodman bought the theater for $18,000. In 1960, Schwarber Theaters bought the theater from the Goodman family. The last movie shown at the Ideal was PT 109 starring Cliff Robertson as a young John F. Kennedy, Jr. Released in September 1963, it was shown two months before Kennedy’s assassination.
After the Ideal closed, the building was leased to the Salvation Army. During this time the Stratis family purchased it and rehabbed it. They leased it to Woodward's, an antiques gallery and auction theater, which moved out in March 2014. Currently, the Ideal Theatre is a live music and performing arts venue. Most recently, it hosted the Ministry of Swing, which offered different kinds of dance and movement classes.