Front Street Theatre

1819 Madison Avenue,
Memphis, TN 38104

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View of the former balcony.

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Idlewild Theatre was opened in 1939 by Chalmers and Edward Cullins and partner Nate Evans. Edward ran this theatre; it was one of the larger neighbourhood theatres and had a balcony.

In the 1960’s it was remodeled into a live theatre named Front Street Theatre (after the street where the company was first located). It went through an adult movie period, was a music venue under several names(more names than any other building in Memphis), was divided up into retail spaces and then cleared out again.

It is presently in use as a special events venue with only the lounges and balcony structure remaining from its early days.

Contributed by Jack Coursey, Vincent Astor

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

Backseater on October 24, 2005 at 11:58 pm

This theater is on the South side of Madison Avenue just West of McLean. When I arrived in Memphis in 1963 it was operating as a live venue known as Front Street Theater, even though it was a long way from Front Street. The bar/lounge upstairs under the balcony was a local talking point. By the early 1970s it had gone to porn—and not even very high-class porn, at that—and was limping along. I lost track of it in the late 70s, but believe it was closed for a while. Glad to hear the building was saved, at least.

JackCoursey on March 16, 2006 at 4:21 pm

Here are a couple of photos from January 2006 of the Idlewild.

GaryB on July 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Just to explain the name in the 1960’s.

The performing company got it’s start as a semi-pro company and performed in the basement of the “King Cotton Hotel” on Front Street in Memphis, when it went outgrew the confines there, a new location was needed, first the Memphian was considered, would have been a wonderful choice, but the deal fell thru, and since a midtown location was prefered, the deal with the Idlewild was made, and they brought their name with them.

As performing theater it could seat 401.

I spent many happy and sometime hard hours there when I was in High School, I learned so very much, maybe sometime I will share some of my times.

For now just wanted to explain the name and give a few facts.

vastor on August 15, 2013 at 12:28 pm

There is a beautiful old photo of the Idlewild at this link. All four of the buildings displayed still exist and only one is not in use or being renovated.

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