Airways Theatre

2366 Lamar Avenue,
Memphis, TN 38114

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Airway(s) Theatre in 1955

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Airways Theatre was built in 1941, opening on January 22, 1942 and was designed by architect Claude Northern. Seating was provided in orchestra and balcony levels. It was built by Kemmons Wilson who later founded Holiday Inns Inc. Advertisements from the period called it the ‘Airway’ theatre, though locals always knew it by the name of a nearby street, which is ‘Airways’ because it connected the city with the airport.

In its later years it was in use as an adult theatre, and the advertisements show the name Airways Theatre. During this adult period, the balcony was reserved for use by couples only.

The Airways Theatre was demolished some time after 1983.

Contributed by JackCoursey, Vincent Astor

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

Backseater
Backseater on October 19, 2005 at 3:56 am

The Airways was one of the larger “neighborhood” theaters. It had a spacious auditorium with a balcony. In size I would compare it to the Rosemary (q.v.) but with less ornate decoration. When I first saw it in the 60s it was already a porn house, showing mostly Euro-trash but occasionally some home-grown material such as “Surftide 77” and “The Bare Hunt.” The balcony was “reserved for couples only.” The area was a little frightening even then and I only went there a few times. When I returned to Memphis in 1973 it was still running, and I went there once to check it out. Once was enough. The neighborhood, the theater, and the show had all deteriorated even further. In later years I drove by occasionally and it was still operating for a while, but eventually closed. Sorry I can’t provide any more recent information.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on December 14, 2005 at 7:20 am

The Airways is gone, torn down in a highway realignment. It had been closed for some time. The name, ironic in view of the fact that TV put neighborhood theatres out of business, is from its location on Airways Boulevard, the road to the Memphis airport.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on January 2, 2009 at 1:30 pm

The Airways was showing adult films in the early 1970s:
http://tinyurl.com/8dryjc

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 7, 2010 at 4:48 pm

yes, it was showing X-rated films.and they went 24 hours Friday til Subday. Boxoffice opened at 10:00 am and it was Couples Six dollars!1977 prices.Nice looking theatre to have to play adult films.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on June 8, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Yes it was Mike.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 8, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Don’t tell me you drove there to watch a skin flick!

vastor
vastor on August 14, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Kemmons Wilson built this theatre in 1941. Ads from the period call it the “Airway” though locals always knew it by the name of the nearby street, which is “Airways” because it was laid out to go to the airport. In its later years as an adult theatre the ads show the name “Airways.” When this happened is still being researched. Though demolished now, it lasted longer because of the adult trade.

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on November 19, 2012 at 1:13 pm

If anyone has any stories about going to/ working at this threatre in its adult days, I would love to hear them. I am chronicling the histories of adult theatres in the US. Please contact me at Thanks!

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