Bijou Theatre

423 4th Avenue North,
Nashville, TN 37219

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Bijou Theatre

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Built on the site of the former Adelphi/Grand Opera House, the Bijou was the Nashville flagship of the Bijou Amusement Company, one of the first African American theatre chains in the south. For close to forty years, the theatre featured both live performance and film until it was razed in 1957 for construction of the new Municipal Auditorium.

Contributed by Jack Coursey

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 27, 2010 at 5:58 pm

This Company operated the LENOX THEATRE in Augusta.So they had screens all over Dixie.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on June 28, 2010 at 10:46 am

I found some info the this was an African-American company that ran a few theatres in Nashville back in the day.Maybe its the same company or just had the same name,I will check it out.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 1, 2010 at 1:46 am

An article headed Final Days of Old Nashville Bijou appeared in Boxoffice of August 10, 1957. It has a brief history of the theater, and some information about the Bijou Amusement Company.

The Bijou circuit served African-American audiences, but was not African-American owned. It was founded by Milton Starr, and various members of the Starr family were involved with its management for several decades. The circuit was quite extensive, operating theaters from the Carolinas all across the south and into Texas and Oklahoma. At its peak there were more than fifty houses in the chain. The headquarters was in Nashville.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on July 1, 2010 at 9:52 am

Thanks Joe,no wonder I do not remember it as I was born just a month before it closed.Thanks again for the info.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on August 4, 2010 at 2:03 pm

According to the Nahville Tennesean the Adelphi/Grand Opera House was built in 1850 and burned down in 1902 as stated above.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on August 4, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Thanks Joe and Tlsloews.

DavePrice
DavePrice on September 18, 2010 at 1:41 pm

I have been in the Bijou building twice: once unsuccessfully to see a stage show and once after the theater was closed and awaiting demolition. My father and I went to see the show with friend who knew Alfred Starr and we thought we could get in but after awhile one of the employees came and told us we had to leave as they had been unable to reach Mr Starr and their orders had been to admit no whites without his okay. Of course the theater was darkened on this occasion and we couldn’t seee very much of the interior, but when I went back into the closed building I could see what was left of a box seat up near the stage. I also went up to the office where the files had been emptied and there were many papers on the floor which I now wish I had looked through.

DavePrice
DavePrice on January 16, 2012 at 10:02 am

I just happened to run across a 1916 trade mag with mention of Nashville’s Bijou (recently opened) and Elite (I assume the one on Fifth Ave.

Try this link: http://books.google.com/books?id=1qEbAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA489&lpg=PA489&dq=%22miniature+circus%22+nashville&source=bl&ots=q9nG4E5FpY&sig=RZCwnLFsLaeuOj_UEzjcK1zIcWY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=wWIUT9y1AcSstgem2fmNAg&sqi=2&ved=0CDkQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=%22miniature%20circus%22%20nashville&f=false

seywhut
seywhut on December 27, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Bessie Smith played here in 1927. There’s a great story of her chasing Eggie Pitts down the street in a mammy costume.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 27, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Linkrot repair: The 1957 Boxoffice article about the closing of the Bijou can now be found at this link.

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