Roxy Theatre

619 Chelsea Avenue,
Memphis, TN 38107

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619 Chelsea Ave

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The Avon Theatre opened in 1936, and was listed in 1937 and 1938, at which time it was renamed Roxy Theatre. It was still open in 1958. A story tells that it was not elegant, having bolted dining room chairs in the front instead of theatre seats. A building which may have house the lobby still exists, but aerial views show a ‘dog leg’ auditorium running behind the store fronts.

(Note) A different theatre named the Chelsea Theatre in 1914 is still listed in the City Directory 1915-1916 at Chelsea Avenue & 5th Street.

Contributed by JackCoursey, Vincent Astor

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

JackCoursey
JackCoursey on January 25, 2006 at 11:22 pm

The Hollywood was located at 2469 Chelsea Avenue. The structure that currently resides at 616 Chelsea is listed as being built around 1933 and is zoned commercial. I currently don’t know the status of this property or if any remnant of the Avon/Chelsea is still apparent.

gspragin
gspragin on July 4, 2007 at 8:36 pm

I went on a search on Chelsea for the Avon Theatre. Take a look:
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JackCoursey
JackCoursey on July 5, 2007 at 4:16 am

Well dang! Thanks for checking it out.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 13, 2012 at 3:08 pm

A 1958 aerial view of this location can be fetched at Historic Aerials. The photo is a bit blurry, but you can make out a long, shed-like structure that stood behind the dry cleaning shop that is currently at 619 Chelsea.

It looked to be about 40 feet wide and about 120 feet long, and I think that it must have been the auditorium of the theater. The store building in front was much too small to have held a theater even of only 485 seats, let alone the 800 or so in later FDY’s. The dry cleaning shop or the adjacent storefront at 617,or both, could have held the entrance to the theater.

In modern satellite view you can see an indentation at the south end of the parking lot behind the shops, and in the 1958 view the old structure appears to extend into that space. I think maybe the building could have been expanded at the rear a time or two, which would account for changes in capacity.

vastor
vastor on December 15, 2012 at 9:42 am

Just posted is the building currently at 619 Chelsea. It could have been an entrance to the theatre. A photo exists of the Avon’s marquee. When I get to it that will show what the entry looked like. There are some marks on the front that could be evidence of a neon display. 12/15/2012

vastor
vastor on May 8, 2013 at 6:22 am

There were actually three theatres on Chelsea. The Hyde Park was not far from the Hollywood. Unfortunately, the only image I have seen so far was one right before demolition and that on videotape. There was evidence of a marquee and an entrance in a rather narrow building. It was an automotive repair shop in its last days.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 8, 2013 at 8:46 am

vastor: the Hyde Park Theatre is listed in Eric Ledell Smith’s African American Theatre Buildings. It’s mentioned in a couple of books about African American music in Memphis, too, and apparently hosted frequent live performances.

vastor
vastor on June 17, 2013 at 3:02 pm

I am not surprised. Most of the “colored” movie theatres had some live entertainment and/or talent shows. I need to find that book since I have published a piece on “colored” balconies in this month’s Marquee magazine and have a book coming out with that included.

vastor
vastor on July 30, 2013 at 3:21 am

By comparing addresses I found a fourth theatre on Chelsea, at Fifth St. It was named the Chelsea and was operating in the teens (1914-1917) and was probably a storefront.

vastor
vastor on October 8, 2014 at 2:56 am

A 1934 newspaper ad shows a Hanover Theatre at this address. That’s all I know right now.

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