The first cinema in Madrid was installed in 1896, by a Lumière dealer in the basement of the now disappeared Hotel de Rusia, Carrera de San Jerónimo. At the turn of the 20th century, films were shown in "salons", itinerant huts, theatres or music halls. As the footage for films grew longer, permanent shacks were built on empty plots of land. They were mainly made of wood, but little by little stone walls were added, with plaster decorations and adornments to attract the public.
The Doré Cinema is one of Madrid's film venues, and was created as a venue for various social leisure activities: a place which in those days was referred to as a "salon".
The salon Doré was inaugurated in its present location, calle Santa Isabel, 3, in the Antón Martín district, on 19 December 1912. It had a capacity of 1,250 spectators and was made up of a ground floor, two stories, a garden and a smoking room.
But it was not until 1923 that the present Doré Cinema was built. The project dated back to 1922, and the plans were signed by architect Críspulo Moro Cabeza, under the sponsorship of industrialist Arturo Carballo Alemany. Another influential person in the construction of the Doré was Master Francisco Garriga, the renowned furniture specialist. The building license is dated 17 October 1922. The modernist style adopted for the Doré was usual for cinemas at the beginning of the century and in keeping with the architectural style commonly found in Madrid in those days.
In the years following its inauguration, the Doré Cinema was very famous, and business very prosperous. One has only to consider the works that were carried out behind its doors. In December 1924, the tenant of the times (Aurelio Ruiz) commissioned architect Manuel López-Mora to build a new distribution of boxes on the top floor as well as at the sides. The Doré Cinema was the venue for the very successful screening of "Gloria que mata" (January 1925), by Rafael Salvador, a documentary about the death of bullfighter Manuel Granero; and "Frivolinas" (April 1927), directed by Arturo Carballo who was also manager of the cinema, a collection of different Music Hall numbers with no real plot, and which has recently been restored by the Spanish Film Library.
However, the premieres carried out in his venue were relatively rare at least at a national level. The film was screened with an orchestra and a choir performing the musical themes. The film's main actors included some of the most famous names of the times, such María Caballé, Rosita Rodrigo, Eva Stachino, "Ramper" and Miguel Ligero.
The gradual decline of the Antón Martín area took its toll on the Doré Cinema, which was little by little stripped of its main functions, which were reduced to a collection of services: markets, cinemas, etc.
From the 1930s, the Doré Cinema became a venue for reruns, with two daily showings. Up until it closed down in 1963, it remained a neighbourhood cinema, popularly known as the "Palace of the Pipas".
Until 1982, year in which the Municipal Corporation - under the Madrid Urban Zoning Plan - acquired the Doré Cinema as a building of architectural and environmental interest to be conserved, it was left to fend for itself, especially the facade and outside walls.
After its purchase by the City Council and its assignment to the Ministry of Culture, it was decided that the building would be used as a permanent venue for screenings by the Spanish Film Library. Its restoration began immediately, headed by architect Javier Feduchi. The old building's architectural and decorative elements were kept, and construction began on a second room on the ground floor. The main hall was restored and fitted out to house a cafeteria and a book shop, in keeping with its characteristic rectangular patio structure with a balcony, illuminated by a central skylight. On the first floor, a series of offices were built. The first restoration project of the Doré dates back to May 1982. The works carried on until 1989, and the cinema was inaugurated on 28 February of the same year.
For the first time, the Spanish Film Library had its own venue for public screenings, and was able to acquire one of the oldest and most characteristic cinemas in Madrid, in the area known as the Atocha-Antón Martín axis, with the prospect of becoming one of the new cultural focal points of the city.