Donk's Theater

223 Buckley Hall Road,
Mathews, VA 23076

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Donk's Theater

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened on June 9, 1947, this true piece of Americana is the kind of old movie house or theater that the late Charles Kuralt would have stopped at and done a story on for his ‘On the Road’ series.

After years of showing movies, it was closed on October 3, 1970. Since then, it has been the home of Virginia’s Lil Ole Opry. Among the Nashville headliners who have appeared here are: Dolly Parton, Kitty Wells, Ernest Tubb, Mickey Gilley, Johnny Russell, etc. The 2001 Miss Virginia, Meghan Shanley, also got her start and was a regular there.

The theater is built of White Formstone and is ALL originial, right down to not being air-conditioned (even to this day), but still has it’s originial fans operating and all of it’s originial upholstered seats!

Contributed by Marvin C. Frame, Jr.

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

kencmcintyre on March 19, 2007 at 2:35 pm

Opened by W.C (Donk) Dunton and originally sat 504. Here is a 1947 photo:

CSWalczak on February 4, 2011 at 4:29 pm

This theater has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places: View link

TLSLOEWS on February 5, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Cool looking little theatre.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on April 3, 2012 at 8:04 pm

thanks Marvin nice intro on the theatre.

wsasser on October 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm

I attended a seminar on Mathews Theaters at the Historical Society the other night. The leader told us that the children of Donks were kicked out of the Be Jo Theater and barred for life for misbehaving. Mr. Dunton (Donk) had a verbal altercation with the Be Jo owner and told him he would build his kid his own theater and did right next door to his BBQ Stand just down the road from the Courthouse area. That is how Donk’s Theater came to life.

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