Palace Theatre

Hancock Street,
Milledgeville, GA 31061

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This theatre was the first in Milledgeville, GA. Oliver Hardy at a very young age attended Military College there. Here is some info from his Biography:
‘Norvell Hardy was born in the small farm town of Harlem, Georgia on January 18, 1892. His father, Oliver senior, died on November 22nd of that year. So, young Norvell was raised by his mother Emily. The family moved to Milledgeville, Georgia where Emily became manager of the Baldwin Hotel. Norvell attended Georgia Military College, and later Young Harris Mountain college as a teenager.

By around 1910, he used the name Oliver Norvell Hardy, and became manager and projectionist in charge of the first movie house in Milledgeville, called the Palace Theatre. Here was his introduction to the movies. All before his very eyes, this exciting new medium must have inspired the young Oliver to enter the world of show business.'

The theatre was located on Hancock Street above a Pool Hall, up a flight of stairs, the Pool Hall still exists today. I don’t know when the theatre closed.

I played in a band in Milledgeville in the mid-1970’s we played in a night club upstairs that was supposed to be in the area where the theatre once was. The night club was called "Oliver’s" for Oliver Hardy.

I have a copy of a Map of Milledgeville around 1865. It shows in the same location is written "Opera House". So I guess that location was for Opera performances from around 1860 until early-1900 changed to the new medium of a film theatre.

Contributed by Ray Hutto

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 2, 2012 at 4:40 am

Sources conflict on the name of the first theater in Milledgeville, though they all agree that Oliver Hardy was the projectionist at the house around 1910. While many sources say that the house was called the Electric Theatre, the historical marker for the Milledgeville Hotel is among the sources saying that the theater was called the Palace. It also says that the Palace was across the street from the hotel. As the hotel was located on South Wayne Street, the Palace could not have been the theater on Hancock Street described above. Cinema Treasures lists the Palace Theatre at 133 S. Wayne Street.

The night club on Hancock Street that Ray’s band played in the 1970s might have been the place that for many years was called Dodo’s Pool Room or Dodo’s Opera House, which was located in the building that once housed the Colonial Theatre, which was in operation by 1912. Dodo’s was listed variously at 124 and 128 West Hancock Street. Cinema Treasures lists the Colonial Theatre at 128 W. Hancock.

It’s possible that the Palace Theatre was called the Electric Theatre at the time it opened, or it might be a misunderstanding that there was ever a house in Milledgeville called the Electric Theatre, as the phrase electric theater was sometimes used as a generic term for movie theaters in the early days of the business, rather like nickelodeon. I’ve found a couple of references to the Palace Theatre in trade journals from the 1910s, along with a Star Theatre and the Colonial Theatre, but none to a house called the Electric Theatre.

norvell on May 2, 2016 at 11:49 am

The first “cinema” (theatorium) in Milledgeville was in 1904 in the Horne Building, operated by W.F. Bath. It was nicknamed “The Palace”. A second cinema catering exclusively for African-descent audiences opened around 1906. The name Palace Theater was adopted when Bath’s cinema was moved into the Opera House, becoming the second cinema in the town and retained the name during subsequent moves. It was never called the Electric Theater. The full story is here (free):

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