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Just found an article in a Nov 7, 1938 news article regarding the “Recently Opened Wardley Theatre”. Have posted it on the photo page.
The Palace Theatre opened on November 3, 1917.
The original building was demolished and rebuilt and opened in 1940.
The first Sunday showing at the Palace was June 2, 1940
The Palace played its first X movie, “ILSA”, in January 1976.
The Palace played a lot of Black Exploitation type movies in 1976 and 1977
The last ad for the Palace found appeared in the June 6, 1978 issue of the Daily Press
All of the other Downtown Newport News Theaters – The Warwick, The Paramount and the Downtown – were all playing XXX movies in their last days during the late 70’s
I was able to find ads in the local paper only in 1950 and 1951 other than the 1958 ad about midget races. No information to state that the Drive-In was still operating at that time. Just posted that ad.
The Lee Theatre, a part of the Pitts Circuit, opened on Oct 2, 1947 and closed on Nov 13, 1958 per news articles in the local newspaper
I found a number of ads dated from Feb 1971 to April 1971 of the Lisa Theatre that operated in the Old York Theater. No other information available. See ad that I posted on Photo Page.
I think that the information above is incorrect regarding the Regal Theater and The Rappanna.
Ad appearing in the local newspaper indicates that they were separate locations.
The address listed for the Rappanna Theatre is 235 Virginia Ave and the Regal was listed at 251 Virginia Ave.
Movie ads show the Regal operating as late as July 7, 1938 playing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was open as early as Feb 1983 per a story in the local news. It had 225 seats and was later used as the Town Hall.
The Rappanna Theatre was opened Oct 16, 1931 per ad in local newspaper. It had 225 seats also. During the days before integration, Blacks were allowed to attend but had to sit in the balcony. There was a fire on Feb. 24, 1949 that destroyed the building and it was rebuilt and re-opened on Oct 13, 1949.
It was operated by the Local Volunteer Fire Department from 1964 to 1982 as a fund raiser. They actually purchased the building in 1967.
In February 1982, the interior of the theater was covered with a layer of soot when the furnace malfunctioned and it was closed. Does not appear that it opened again as a movie theater
In its last days it served as a venue for community events.
It was sold in April 1984 to local businessmen who opened a Teen Club called the Balcony.
One bit of trivia that I found interesting is that in 1938,it played a short documentary demonstrating 3D -with colored glasses being supplied to the patrons.
The Jefferson was open in 1971- per newspaper ad. There is a listing for this theater in the City Directory for 1971- does not appear in 1972 City Directory. Appears that the theater closed in 1971
Found this on line in regard to the Cavalier Theatre:
In 1964 the Loth Corporation sold the theaters to the B&K Virginia Corporation, then in April, 1966, Davidson Theaters in Washington D.C. acquired the Wayne Theatre on a long-term lease but passed on the Cavalier, which was forced to close. The building was purchased and torn down by Advance Auto.
Bruton Heights Theater was held in the School auditorium at Bruton Heights School – a Black school in Williamsburg, Va
This was in the days of segregation.
The school served as a school for the Black Community from 1940 – 1966.After integration it served the community until 1989.
Prior to the opening of the Bruton Heights Theater, there were few movie venues for Blacks in Williamsburg.
The Apollo on Bypass Road operated from 1934 to 1938 before closing
The New Theater, at Nicholson & Botetourt, operated from 1934 to 1936.
The only other venue was a Black only parking section at the Stockade Drive In Theater on Richmond Road from 1941-1963.
The Bruton Heights Theater operated from 1941 to 1954 per the Motion Picture Daily Annual Publication.
Some ads appeared in the Williamsburg Gazette over the years but not on a regular basis.
Per local newspaper ads and City Directories:
Blane Twin – 1969-1973Martin Twin – 1974-1990Carmike – 1990-2002
Per the story: The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011. According to the application submitted for it’s inclusion, “Donk’s Theatre was constructed in 1946-1947 and features vernacular commercial form design with Art Deco touches.” It was originally built as a movie theater, and operated in that capacity until 1970.
Drive-In 54, these are wonderful photos. Thanks so much for sharing. First time I have ever seen shots of what it looks like. Again, thank, wsasser
Just posted a newspaper story and photo of the opening of the Jefferson Theater
Watched Pushover with Fred McMurray and Kim Novak today – the Magnolia Theater was in it.
The Palace Theater, Main Street (Duke of Gloucester Street) across from Palace Green near the intersection of Palace and Main Street
1.Story Oct 24, 1912, Landmark tree torn down to build a theater.
2.Nov 21, 1912, new theater building progressing rapidly.
3.Jan 8, 1913, theater to open soon.
4.Opened Jan 23, 1913 by owner B.F. Wolfe
5.Jan 23, 1913, Williamsburg’s Educational and Civic Association approve of theater.
6.Last ad found was in Daily Press dated Dec. 5, 1925
7.Motion Picture Daily Periodical lists them through 1928
tjmonty, check out the photo page on this site for the Paramount and you will see an ad for the Paramount advertising Elvis. Check it out. Just go to the top of this page and click on the tab labeled Photos right above the picture.
This theater must have had a very short run. Could find no other ads nor any listings in the Newport News City Directory.
Dec 17 1909
The Newport News City Directory shows 2508 Washington Ave as the exact address for this theater.
It opened in 1907. The City Directory has a posting for it in 1912 but there is a news story of its closing in 1910
The Newport News City Directory shows the Nickelodeon to be located at 2608 Washington Ave
It was in operation as the Nickelodeon during 1907 and 1908.
In Dec 1908, it was announced that it was reopening as the Colonial. The Colonial closed in March 1909.
Per a story in the Sept/Oct issue of Pleasant Living Magazine, the Fairfax opened on April 16, 1928 and closed On Dec. 31, 1989. The first movie shown was “Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come” with Richard Barthelmess.
Hey Stromley, many thanks, very nice. Helpful for my theater research.
I was able to go inside the Palace Theater this week. It is now a church and looks just about like it did in its day. The murals on the walls are gone replaced by paint and Bible verses, the upstairs lobby has been remodeled as well at the rest rooms but other than that it is much the same. They told me that the seats are about 90% original. The screen is gone but the stage is still there. They hold meetings there every Sunday. I am posting a photo of sitting in the lobby last week.
I ran across this in April 2014. It is just a couple of blocks from the Church that was used in High Noon with Gary Cooper. I was looking for the church and rode by this old theater – just a shell but still there.
Based on information in the Motion Picture Daily and local newspaper ads, the Theater operated from 1931 to 1982.
I have the opening ad dated Oct 16, 1931 and the last ad that I found featuring a film is dated Feb 11, 1982.
A March 4, 1982 story states that the interior of the theater was covered with soot when the furnace malfunctioned and that it would reopen when possible. I can find no record of it opening as a movie theater though I have been told that it operated as a venue for fund raisers and local plays for a while.
Quoting a news story- “The Middlesex Volunteer Fire Department upgraded its equipment. For years the company raised money by running the Rapanna Theater. In 1992, the company bought a $280,000 fire truck with proceeds from the theater and bingo.”
In Jan 1996, the theater building collapsed due to heavy snow and ice. It was demolished and now is an empty lot.