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New photo has been posted of the Capitol Theatre with an early canopy and sign. Picture playing is “One Last Fling” released in 1949. Taken from the photomural inside the entrance to Soulsville USA on the site of the Capitol Theatre/Stax recording studio. The large gray square is a speaker mounted on the wall. 12/15/2012
Yes, that is the Southbrook. I have also seen a photo of the entry somewhere else on the web.
This theatre stood at 49 S. Main in a still existing building. It was open from about 1911 until 1919 according to city directory listings. The Majestic #1 which replaced it is elsewhere on this site and also still exists as the Majestic Grille. The Savoy is listed at the same address until 1922.
A photo has been posted taken 12/8/12
The W C Handy Theatre, of which Handy himself was very proud, is coming down. All that is left today, 12/8/12, is the sign and entry. To their credit, some years ago, the Orange Mound Community organization looked at rehabbing it for a community center. It was too dilapidated and unsuited to their needs so they built a completely new structure. The brick walls of the auditorium have been crumbling for months and I just saw the last vestiges this morning.
It was built as an eastern venue for the stage shows so popular on Beale St. and was built with a stage and booth equipped for small stage shows as well as movies. This theater was built for Memphis' black community by the Cullins family in partnership with Kemmons Wilson. Handy attended the gala opening.
The interior was not ornate but very well equipped and was a source of pride for the neighborhood for many years, finishing its useful years as a dance club. It has been boarded up for perhaps 20 years or more. The graphic by the entrance could be interpreted as a phoenix or a fighting cock. It did not prove prophetic.
This Savoy was operated by Chalmers Cullins. He, according to his niece, had a reputation for keeping close watch on his employees as far as their education was concerned and was much admired for the help he gave them.
Some sources indicate that it also operated under the name Skyline Drive-In.
Some sources indicate that it also operated under the name Southland Drive-In.
This site has been re-developed into an industrial site.
Much of the area has been developed into residences.
Responding to Chuck, yes there was a Highland Cinema. It was a later name for the Studio Theatre. It had many names—Newman, Normal, Studio, Movie House (on Highland), Highland Cinema. The proof of this is in a photo at American Classic Images dating from the 1980s. It is now the concert hall for Newby’s bar next door. It still exists but isn’t lovely. It never was elaborate in my recollection but it had an interesting 1960s “art house” lobby when it was the Studio.
New information from the county register. The building was built in 1927—ergo the Newman/Normal/Studio/Movie House/Highland Cinema are the same building. Still operating as the concert hall for Newby’s. Looks pretty dismal on the inside.
It was later operated by Dave Lebovitz along with three indoor and two other drive-in theatres. All served the “colored” community.
Park Avenue has no highway number although it is an important thorofare. It begins at a fork from Lamar Ave. and veers in another direction. The fork is near South Parkway and Park Avenue stretches from midtown Memphis to the border of Germantown at which time it changes its name to Poplar Pike and continues east for a long way thereafter.
From the MOM nostalgia website: “This Cinema opened October 7, 1981 and closed September 28, 2000 – Last movies shown at the Mall of Memphis Cinema as a General Cinema Theatre were "Bait,” “Highlander End Game,” “Nutty Profesor II, The Klumps,” “Original Kings of Comedy” and “Scary Movie.”“ The last operator was Cinema Grill. The Mall of Memphis closed Christmas Eve, 2003. It is gone without a trace and the land is for sale.
City directories show that a theatre called the Gem opened at this address in 1926.
Dave Lebovitz owned and operated several “Colored” movie theaters: Ace, Harlem, and Georgia. He and his brother also owned and operated three Drive-in movies: Sky-Vue, Lamar, and Sunset (West Memphis).
The above photo was taken in November, 2012. The passage to the theatre and anything on the upper level are gone, only the left hand storefronts remain. Dave Lebovitz owned and operated several “Colored” movie theaters: Ace, Harlem, and Georgia. He and his brother also owned and operated three Drive-in movies: Sky-Vue, Lamar, and Sunset (West Memphis).
A very nice gentleman from the Royal Knights, headquartered in the building, let me look inside. It is a bar with a low ceiling supported by posts. It can be seen where the lobby wall was, otherwise no trace of the interior. He said that it had been a bar since the mid-1970s but also said he would look up more information.
Dave Lebovitz owned and operated several “Colored” movie theaters: Ace, Harlem, and Georgia. He and his brother also owned and operated three Drive-In movies: Sky-Vue, Lamar, and Sunset (West Memphis).
This image was used on the cover of an edition of Memphis Blues by W. C. Handy which commemorated the dedication of Handy Park on Beale in 1931.
A 2012 photo of the restored building facade has been posted.
This just in. Went by to look at Osaka Bistro today. No trace of the interior of the Plaza remains but the restaurant is very elaborate and beautiful. Haven’t eaten there yet. The canopy and front window remain intact with the “Osaka” letters where the vertical letters always have been. See the new exterior photos.
This photo is from “Memphis Greets You” a promotional photo book of Memphis dated 1916. One is in the possession of the Memphis Shelby County Room of the Memphis Public Library and one is also in the Library of Congress collection.
The book “Night in Memphis” is available at the Memphis Shelby County Room of the Memphis Public Library.
Jimmie Tashie of Malco Theatres and the theatre manager on duty were very kind to me about taking these photos yesterday. The theatre is indeed very handsome, I would only want the older woodwork exposed and better light fixtures in the lobby. The theatre now caters to an adult—as in mature, want some substance to their movies—crowd. It is prospering and has become a “bistro” cinema serving wine and extra goodies. It is completely redone, converted to digital and I saw “Hugo,” “Marigold Hotel,” and “The Artist” there. The auditoria are remodeled almost out of recognition—for the better—except for the final demise of the curtains over the screen. The old square boxoffice has been removed and the outer foyer area furnished with bistro tables and chairs. Malco can now be really proud of it again as they were in 1977 when in opened. Was looking to see if there was any big spread in Boxoffice Magazine about the Highland Quartet when it opened. There was just a notice. The Ridgeway, I guess being the new home offices, was the one that got the glory. It also is free-standing where the Highland Quartet was in a four-sided…well they called it a mall in 1971…but everything faced outward with just an arcade around the outside. The Highland Quartet was a prime example of the “mimimalist” cinema style of the 70s—it didn’t even have any sort of eye-catching display, just a sign on Poplar Avenue and changeable letter boxes by the front entrance. Thank heaven things are different now.