Old Daisy Theatre
329 Beale Street,
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The Daisy Theatre is a prime surving example of nickelodeon architecture from the early cinema era. The tiny hall features a grand half dome entrance on Memphis’s famous Beale Street. It was constructed in 1912 and a loan was secured on a handshake.
The Daisy Theatre is unusual in that the stage and screen are on the sidewalk end. Double doors on either side of the half-dome enter into small vestibules one on either side of the stage. Emerging from the vestibules, you have the audience looking at you!
There is a small balcony, vaguely horse-shoe shaped, supported from above with iron rods. This is the reason for the reverse design, the fire escapes from the balcony and booth could only open onto the alley behind the building. There was no lobby at all, just hallways.
During much of the 20th century Beale Street served as the business and entertainment center for African-Americans from all over the Mid-South. Despite its tiny stage, the Daisy Theatre was a prime performing venue on the so-called “Chitlin' Circuit” from the 1930’s up into the 1960’s.
In 1941, the New Daisy Theatre was built directly across the street. It too survives and is used as a concert venue.
During the 1980’s the “Old Daisy” was extensively renovated and reopened as a Beale Street Blues Museum. Today it is in use as a banquet hall providing live entertainment.
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