Macon Theatre

Northside Street,
Tuskegee, AL 36083

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Opened in 1935, the Macon Theatre was a unique creation born of the South’s Jim Crow laws. Hired by by the Alabama Theatres Circuit and Atlanta exhibitor Oscar Oldknow to design their new theater in the college town of Tuskegee, Alabama, architect McKendree A. Tucker found that erecting a building with two identical auditoriums side-by-side would cost his client less than building a single-auditorium house with a balcony in which to segregate black patrons, as was the custom.

The result was perhaps the first twin movie theater ever built, though unlike later twin theaters it featured not only two auditoriums, but duplicated every feature in its public areas, as the laws in Alabama then required such facilities as rest rooms and drinking fountains to be segregated.

Patrons of different races purchased tickets from different booths, and used separate entrances leading to separate lobbies. There were even two marquees, and each side of the theater had its own air conditioning system. Each auditorium ran the same program, on a staggered schedule, but the two sides of the theater had segregated staffs. Only one projection room served both auditoriums, however, and the entire operation had only one manager.

By 1950 it was operated by the McLendon Theatres chain. The Macon Theatre was closed in 1957, and re-opened under the management of McClendon Theatres in 1967. It was still in operation as late as 1975, according to references in Boxoffice Magazine during that year.

Contributed by Joe Vogel

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 28, 2009 at 2:34 pm

The year given for this photo is 1982.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on August 18, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Looks like it says “OPEN” on the marquee in 1982 picture.

irvl
irvl on August 18, 2010 at 8:30 pm

This was truly a unique operation. I don’t recall ever hearing of side by side theatres being handled this way anywhere else.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on June 21, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Here’s a link to the illustrated trade journal article mentioned in the introduction: boxofficemagazine

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