Bristol Theatre

3415 Summer Avenue,
Memphis, TN 38122

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Bristol Theatre in 1955

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Bristol Theatre opened in 1929, not long after the Airdome across the street closed. The auditorium was built behind a row of store fronts, making a long slender lobby which ran to the middle of the block. The slender lobby was fronted by a box office so narrow, there was barely room for one person to sit down. It was one of the few neighbourhood theatres with a balcony. It is not known if it was a separated balcony.

The Bristol Theatre survived until 1978, playing neighbourhood type programs. The entry building exists as a storefront, but the auditorium has been demolished for parking.

(Note) Another small theatre the Highland Heights Theatre was in the next block east for only a year or so in 1926-1927 and was destroyed by a fire.

Contributed by JackCoursey, Vincent Astor

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

Oscarcl
Oscarcl on December 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I do not want to say anyone is wrong but the Bristol Theatre building is still standing. It is now a scooter shop. You can pick it out in middle of the block on Summer Avenue due to its height above the other buildings. I went there almost every saturday from 1950 to 1957. Fondest memories are seeing all 15-episodes of the serial JUNGLE RAIDERS and watching the lady/manager trying to control the kids on Saturday afternoons. It must have been like herding cats.10 cents to get in. Those were wonderful days.

vastor
vastor on April 7, 2013 at 2:36 am

The Bristol Theatre entry building exists but the auditorium is no longer standing, sorry. The scooter shop has the incorrect address, I checked. A photo in the Newman Collection at Memphis Heritage and another one in the Memphis Room shows the Bristol marquee on the building pictured above. You can see the marks where the marquee was hung in the above photo. I will obtain the photo from the library and post it. The auditorium was far back from the entrance and has been demolished. You can find the Newman photo on the Memphis Heritage website under the Newman Collection.

Oscarcl
Oscarcl on April 7, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Vincent, you are the expert and I defer to you. Did you ever attend the old Bristol? My childhood would not have been the same without it. Attended your presentation at MHI. I have a book published last year about old Memphis memorabilia, including references to old theatres. One whold chapter is devoted to saturday Afternoons at the Bristol.

vastor
vastor on May 23, 2013 at 9:03 pm

The film I remember most at the Bristol was a double-feature, Murders in the Rue Morgue and House of Wax (non-3-d). We went to other theatres, but lived further in town. We mostly went to first-run at the Plaza or Park or downtown until the Paramount opened. What is the name of your book? I’d like to see it, if I haven’t come across it in my research for my new book. Am picking up the project of doing a lot of updating to Cinema Treasures and will get a Bristol photo soon.

Oscarcl
Oscarcl on May 23, 2013 at 11:44 pm

Vincent— My book is called CAPTURING THE REEL WORLD. It is not available except from me yet. I had a book signing at Davis Kidd (Laurelwood Booksellers) and did well but I am not much of a self-promoter. Maybe we could exchange books. I work at MHI and I know you are involved there as well. I’ll leave a copy with June for you.Charlie Lambert

PS My favorite movie from Bristol days was THEM! scared me out of my wits.

vastor
vastor on June 7, 2013 at 5:09 am

A photo of the Bristol has been posted.

montgomerypaul
montgomerypaul on June 10, 2013 at 11:19 pm

You know your old when you had you first date at The Bristol. I am suprised no one has mentioned the big rats that use to run accross the seat Isle and accross the front. THat was in late 60s and early 70s. Man I loved Memphis back then !

montgomerypaul
montgomerypaul on June 10, 2013 at 11:23 pm

We Saw “Wait untill Dark”

Projectguy
Projectguy on June 14, 2013 at 5:56 am

I worked part-time for Mitch as a projectionist at the theatre. It was the most fun I had ever had. This was in 1968. I have some very memories of that time

Oscarcl
Oscarcl on June 14, 2013 at 12:06 pm

If you lived in Highland Heights, you very likely went to this theatre often. It was cheap, close, showed more movies/cartoons/serials/etc than you could digest. They had the best popcorn (real popcorn), nickel and dime candies. That poor lady who was the manager in the 50s had her hands full on Saturday afternoon with a house full of wandering kids and fights and sneaks who didn’t pay to get in. What a fun time to be alive that was. I will never forget those simple, innocent days of my youth.

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