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I was given a copy of a Fire Report dated Nov 29, 1951 showing a major fire at this theater causing an estimated damage of $20K. The last ad that I found in the newspaper was dated just a couple of days later – none after that. Assume that it never reopened.
The original Imperial was opened in November 1924, closed in 1932 and was located on Duke of Gloucester Street in downtown Williamsburg before the restoration of the city. It sat approximately where the Kimball Theater sits today in Merchants Square.
Previously the Colonial Theater (a black theater) operated at this same address from 1919-1929.
I got the following note from a Poq. native with memories of the Messick
The Messick Theater was located at 1279 Poquoson Avenue near Trinity United Methodist Church. It started out as home which was sold to A.D. Page, J.W. Rollins, and J.T. Rollins, trustees for the Charity Conclave Number 5, Heptasophs or Seven Wise Men for $50.00. It was sold by Littleton and Jannette Watkins on October 2, 1896. The Heptasophs sold the house to Linwood I. Burcher who then converted the building into the Messick Theatre. It had a half bricked front and tickets were bought from the front booth. Tickets cost 25 cents and a popcorn machine was located to the left after you entered the doors into the foyer. It also contained a staircase which led to the balcony and the projection room. It was sold again in June of 1974 to James Moore who bought the Theatre as an investment I know one of the movies shown during the second time was Dr. Zhivago.
I got the following note from a Poq. native who has memories of the Capital.
Capital Movie Theater located at 1022 Poquoson Avenue. When the Capital closed, it became a dress sewing factory. My mother worked there. Later became a Baptist church which burned down in 1992. Now located at the site is the St. Basil the Great Orthodox Church just down the street from the Poquoson Middle School which was Poquoson High School at the time. Not only movies were shown, but talent shows and country music acts such as Sunshine Sue were held. The first color movie I ever saw was at this theater and was “Sampson and Delilah” in the early 1950s. I also participated in the talent shows dancing with Field’s Dance Studio.
I have removed a couple of posts with a bit of misinformation and am posting the following, which I think is accurate.
Per local records:
The American Theater at 119 E. Mellen Street in Phoebus opened in Jan.1909 and burned down in 1911/1912 per a Daily Press News story.
It opened again in 1912 and closed as the American in March 1932.
It opened a few days later in March 1932 as the Lee Theater and remained in business until 1968.
In May 1968, it became the Lee Adult Theater and remained in business as such until Oct 1984.
In Oct 1986, it opened as the New American and remained open until June 1996. It was a a theater that served meals along with the show and was operated by Smith & Wade, local entertainers.
In June 2000, it opened as the American, a cultural center operated by the Hampton Arts Center.
I just posted a news photo from the local newspaper, Sept 3, 1981 showing the Warwick Theater being demolished.
Chuck1231, just noticed that you posted the car capacity. Can you tell me where that originated and the years that it shows it to be.. By the way, I can find no entry for this theater in the Motion Picture Daily which supposedly listed all the theaters up to 1970 or so.
Chuck1231, I just don’t think that the Palisades existed. I have newspaper ads for the last days of the Stockade that agree with their disappearing from the listings in the City Directory. I have the same for the B&L Drive In. There are no listings for the Palisades in the City Directory, old Phone Directories, or newspaper ads. Just cannot verify that it existed plus none of the folks that grew up in the area have any memory of this theater – nor do the folks at the local newspaper in Williamsburg.
Last ad found – not sure if this is last ad or not
Found the news story that showed the Lyric closed on Aug 31, 1947 and reopened on Nov 8, 1947 as the Basie, named after Count Basie. Count Basie played 5 concerts on April 24, 1948
Per the opening day ad, the Carver opened for business in Oct 1946
Based on news stories in the Norfolk Journal and Guide, it appears that the Lincoln closed in 1927 and was immediately renamed the Capitol. Just months later, the Capitol was sold to Elder Michaux who converted it into a Church of God.
There was a story dated Sept 10, 1927 announcing that the Capitol was opening in the old Lincoln Theater on Jefferson Ave.
Another story dated Nov 5, 1927 tells of the opening of Church of God in the old Capitol Theater Building.
The building still stands and and is the Gospel Spreading Church of God to this day.
Found a story announcing the opening of the Rim Theater – opened July 4, 1949.
From the NNHS65.comFrom NNHS65.com
Barton Op. 350 of 10 ranks and three manuals was originally installed in the Paramount Theatre in Newport News, Virginia. It has the distinction of being the last instrument shipped from the Barton factory in 1931. It was later installed in a theatre in Alexandria, Virginia for a few years, moved to the Midwest where eventually the organ was purchased by the Granada Historical Society and installed in the Granada Theatre in Kansas City in 1986 and had 11 ranks added to it. The Granada Theatre closed, and in 1997 it was purchased by Phil Maloof and installed in his Music Room here in Las Vegas. About the same time the six-manual console from the Barton 55-rank organ in the Chicago Stadium (which was torn down to make way for the new United Center, the pipes of the instrument were never relocated to a new home, and while in storage, 75% of the organ was destroyed in a fire) was also purchased by Phil Maloof and was completely restored and connected to operate the Barton Op. 350. The original console has also been retained. Another 10 ranks were added making a total of 32 ranks. In addition the organ has some “classical” ranks added bringing the total to 43 ranks. Bob Maes was the principal technician responsible for the current installation.
The next ad would designate it as the Rapanna Theater
The West Point Drive In opened in 1947 and closed in 1966
The Wonderland Theater was built in 1921 and operated until 1931 when it was renamed the York Theater.
It closed in May 1966. During segregation, the York served both white and black audiences with the black folks sitting in the balcony with a separate ticket booth just inside the entry door. I was told that there were no provisions for concessions for them.
A local historian told me that it reopened for a short period on weekends under the name Lisa.
I had a chance to tour the theater today – or what is left of it. It has been heavily remodeled and hard to tell anything about its theater days. The original doors are in place with a double set.
The whites entered through the left hand doors with the ticket booth directly inside to the right.
Black entered through the right hand doors with the ticket booth to the left (served by the same person) with the stairs to the balcony straight ahead.
The balcony is still in place but all the seats are gone. The balcony is being used as storage.
The Projection room is there but the projectors were sold for salvage.
Downstairs you the stage is still standing in the rear but again the whole area is storage.
The owner told me that he removed the metal ends off each aisle and sold them for a handsome price on ebay.
It was great to visit but sad overall.
The Motion Picture Daily shows an opening year of 1947 also.
This was the Messick Theater being converted into a private home in Aug 1977
The Film Daily Year Book of Motion Pictures shows this theater opening in 1932 and it was still operating as late as 1956. There were 286 seats.
I took the photo that is on this site. That building is now gone.
I live in the area. I have asked a ton of old timers about this drive in and there are no memories of such. I have checked the local newspaper for ads (over 30 years) and have yet to find such. I have Movie Theaters Annuals from 1928 to 1960 and this theater is not listed at all. Makes you wonder, does it not?