The K-B MacArthur Theater, which has entertained several generations of movie goers, may turn out its lights for good.

Ron Goldman, owner of the five-theater K-B chain, declined to discuss reports the MacArthur would be replaced by a five-story office building, but said its future was uncertain.

The Washington Tribune, which reported Jan. 15 the MacArthur would close, quoted Goldman as saying, "It's making money, but it could be making a lot more money if it were an office building. We've got to change with the times.'"

Bob Archer, past president of the MacArthur area Palisades Citizens Association, said he "knew the Goldman family was exploring the possibility of closing the theater."

Built in 1946, the 800-seat Art Deco theater, on the corner of U Street and MacArthur Boulevard NW, is a combination of faded Hollywood finery and institutional practicality. Studio promo pictures mounted on construction paper are taped haphazardly to the dark maroon marble walls behind the concession stand, while large brass chandeliers gleam in the lobbies.

Marnie Nicholson, owner of a small shop across from the theater, remembers when the theater showed only British films in the '60s and served refreshments to waiting patrons.

"If the feature was a bit late in starting, you could go upstairs to a room over the lobby where they served tea, coffee, and cookies," she said. "I first moved to this area when I was a college student. When things got a little tight my roommmate and I would head over to the MacArthur for a supper of tea and cookies."

George W. Pollen, owner of the Columbia Bookshop that faces the MacArthur, said, "Years ago the MacArthur was a great movie house. Now, they keep the movies there too long . . . It's not a crowd pleaser."

Still, according to Archer, the neighborhood is upset at the thought of the MacArthur's demise. He said the citizens association is working to develop a set of alternatives to the proposed office building in the event the MacArthur is closed.

Pollen said he would "rather see something that contributes to the cultural life of the community," preferring a mall with a number of small businesses--galleries and antique shops--to an office building.