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Can someone please find the exact opening date for the Broadway in 1920 after it was rebuilt. We’ve looked in our public library at the newspaper archives, but some years are missing and 1920 was one of those years.
@ Joe- that sounds about right / I knew the seating was over 1,000 and not over 1,200. I have a silent film of the inside of the theater showing the interior.
Roy Rogers came to the Virginia with his horse Trigger. While in Danville, Roy also rode Trigger up the courthouse steps and on the Virginia stage. Tom Mix also came to town and rode his horse on stage.
Chuck – I expect that it was likely an early movie theater. The building isn’t very deep so that leads me to believe it was a small movie theater of some sort. Not long lived, but it did exist none the less. I would expect they must have had some sort of live performance there as well being that it was standard for the time.
The Dan Theater was a conversion of The Register newspaper building. The conversion happened in 1939 according to blueprints filed with the City of Danville by H.F. Kincey. The Dan Theater had two box offices one for whites and one for blacks. Each had their own lobby. The lobby for the blacks was located on the balcony level. According to the blueprints for the Dan Theater the capacity for the Dan was around 725 people and the theater was decorated in an art-deco style. The auditorium was very plain looking much like the North Theater auditorium (1947). The Dan Theater was famous for it hold-overs from the Capitol Theater and the “bottom of the barrel” westerns; meaning you could see the same chase scene in 3 different movies. The theater seems to have closed by the late 1950’s and was taken over by Kresge Co. Today the building is used for storage and was once the office of the Commonwealth Attorney. The theater floor is still there and the front portion of the colored lobby upstairs but little else remains.
The Rialto Theater started life as the BIJOU Theater in the early 1900’s ( pre 1910 ). When the Strand Theater ( 1915 ) closed after just 1 yr. of operation the BIJOU obtained the small orchestra from the Strand Theater. The Bijou was a popular theater with a middle-class working patronage. The Bijou was purchased by Paramount Pictures in 1928-1929 through H.F. Kincey who also owned two other theaters in town. The theater was renamed the Rialto. The Rialto was popular for the appearances of many a western movie star, as was the Virginia Theater up the street, and was known for a popular intermission game called “Lucky.” The Rialto was a segregated theater with blacks having an entrance through the basement to a hidden staircase that went to the balcony and whites utilizing the orchestra seating or main floor. The theater operated until the 1960’s.
When the theater operated as the Lea Theater there was a massive fire just after midnight on May 18, 1964, causing an estimated $150,000 in damages. It was determined that the fire started around the stage/screen area and spread throughout the auditorium and into other parts of the theater causing damage in the business office and projector room. The roof collapsed just in front of the stage and partially in the balcony area.
Just added a photo of the proscenium arch of the Strand. I took it a while back while the store owner took me through.
The Capitol Theater was built as part of the Hotel Danville complex at 600 Main St. The blueprints list the seating capacity as 850 people. The balcony was accessed via the hotel lobby and it had its own separate lounge and bar upstairs ( lobby level) according to the blueprints as well. The theater was in operation before the hotel opened. The earliest theater advertisement dates to March 1927. The hotel was under construction as of June 1926, opening July 19, 1927. The Capitol was in competition for the same patrons with the Broadway Theater which reopened in 1921 after being rebuilt because of a fire.
The Virginia Theater / Danville Opera House had a seating capacity of around 1200 people. In later years the opera boxes and sections of the upper balcony were closed off – accounting for the reduced seating. The Danville Public Library has a B/W video of Danville from the 1920’s showing the interior of the theater.