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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.
Local records indicate that the Lyric operated from 1919 to 1947 when it was renamed the Basie. The Basic was open into 1965 and was dismantled in 1966. I can remember the Basie in the early to mid-60s. It was a few blocks from the Langley which was the white theater in Hampton.
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.
This theater operated under 3 different names as follows. Sources include the Southside Sentinel, the local newspaper in Urbanna, Va and the Motion Picture Daily publications
Middlesex Drive In – Grand Opening April 16, 1953
Middlesex Drive In – Closed on Oct 3, 1957
Midway Drive In – opened April 11, 1958
Midway Drive In – closed June 12, 1958
Middlesex Drive In – reopened July 24, 1958
Middlesex Drive In – last ad found Sept 25, 1958
Note- Motion Picture Daily shows open until 1960
Vista Drive In – opened July 15, 1965
Vista Drive In – last ad Oct 15, 1966
Note – No listings for this theater in the Motion Picture Daily
Hey CharmainZoe, sorry for my misread. But a ton of thanks for the source, it has filled a big hole in my research. Are you familiar with the Motion Picture Daily Archives. Can get you there if you need to.
Hey CharmainZoe, thanks for the update. The Newport News City Directory shows it for the first time in 1920 which would agree with 1919 since the Dir. generally trails a year. I have a June 1920 ad that shows the Lincoln being managed by William M. Moseley with E.C. Brown as President and General Manager which supports your post. However, there has never been, to my knowledge, a Dunbar in Newport News. There was a Dunbar across the water in Norfolk. Could you tell me where you got your information because it might serve me in my local research.
Hi Stromley, what a find. Could you scan it in and post it for us to see.
Chuck1231, I do not know if the theater is able to show feature films or not. However, the only things that they advertise are plays and concerts. Have attended a few plays there. Will ask the next time that I am there. It is a very nice theater but I wish that it was still the Lee that I attended as a kid.
According to local City Directories and historical books:
The Academy of Music operated from 1900 to 1927. It was demolished and rebuilt as the Paramount in 1931 and operated until 1978 when it closed due to a lack of business. A story about the opening of the Paramount in the Oct. 3, 1931 Daily Press states the seating as 1350.
The Paramount opened briefly for a short period but again business caused it to close it doors again. It operated from 1980 to 1981.
It was demolished in 1988. Elvis performed here in the 50’s. In the late 70s, it was a XXX theater.
It appears that the Messick Theater on Poq. Ave opened for business on Dec. 3. 1931 as a part of the Scott chain that also owned the American in Phoebus and the Scott in Hampton. The American would later become the Lee, the Scott would later become the Langley.
There was a silent Messick that operated from about 1925 to 1930 at 6 Messick Road. It was condemned by the state to widen the road. Pottsie Martin, whose mother lived there, told me that the house was cut into and the back of the theater became the front of the house. His parents added a new back to the house and it is still there on Messick Road.
The Messick Theater closed in the early 70’s. The last listing that I found in the local newspaper was in June 1971 however the Poq. City Directory has a listing for the Messick as late as 1974, nothing after that.
The Messick Theater was remodeled into a private home and sits there today. It was up for auction a couple of weeks ago.
A Facebook comment from someone who grew up in Poquoson posted April 4, 2013
i remember the old capitol theater so well— they use to have compitions there also— i remember playing the piano in one of the compitations—needless to say i didnt t win—lol— but momma entered me inn it and told me practice girl —and i did— i remember some of the stories about the old Capitol Theater— and even after when it was the zipper factory— and also the man that murdered his wife and then came and parked behind d the theater and killed himself—-and yes they had air conditioning —lol— was a good place to go and so was the Messick theater— at least we had someplace to walk too on the friday and saturday evenings and sunday was strickly church— youth fellowship—its a lot of the stories and memories of both theaters but i mainly went to Messick Thester— just to see mr. bucher and see if he still had his ring on !!! lol—such good memories and sweet laughter !!!
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.