Alkrama Theatre

108 N. McMorrine Street,
Elizabeth City, NC 27909

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Alkrama Theatre

When the Alkrama Theatre opened on November 18, 1912, the local newspaper reported that a capacity crowd of over 900 people attended the first show. By 1926, the seating capacity had been reduced to about 750. The theater operated until at least 1949, but the building has since been remodeled for commercial use.

Contributed by Joe Vogel

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

CSWalczak on November 5, 2010 at 10:15 am

Here is an archival article about the opening of the Alkrama in November of 1912, including a hazy picture. The tools at the bottom can be used to enlarge the text:

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 6, 2010 at 3:07 am

Google Maps' little pin misplaces this address by half a block. The Alkrama Theatre building is the one with the red roof in the satellite view. Its back wall abuts the Carolina Theatre & Grille, which fronts on the next street to the east.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on November 6, 2010 at 6:08 am

Open till ~1955? Can anyone verify the exact date?

In 1940 was owned by Carolina Amusement Co., Inc of Elizabeth City, Mrs. W.T. Culpepper, President, with about 5 theaters in North Carolina and Virginia.

Need more info and photos.

DavidDynamic on May 4, 2011 at 2:01 am

This one was way way before my time and I have never heard of it before.
I am familiar with at least the names of some of Elizabeth City’s movie theaters.
The Carolina Theater was located on Main St. in the Carolina Building. It was lost to fire around 1967(?) in a dramatic fire that lasted 3 days or so since it was a large structure covering most of the block.
The Love State Theater was closed but reopened to replace the Carolina.
The Center Theater seemed to show the second round movies and I remember seeing a couple horror films there. It was rather frayed in the latter 1960s.
The Web Drive In Theater located on Weeksville Road. I rode my bicycle in one night and watched an unmemorable movie. The nearby horse racing track and drive-in succumbed to development as far as I know.
In more recent times (70s & 80s) a twin theater was constructed at Southgate Mall as a free standing building. At this time I don’t remember the name.
A new drive-in which I also don’t remember the name was constructed on US 17 South. A very nice facility but built too close to the town so the real estate became too valuable for the usage. I think it existed from mid 70’s to mid 80’s. In the latter days it showed adult films and seemed to do a good trade but I think that it was really doomed by being too close to Elizabeth city itself.
Wish I could provide more details but my association with the Elizabeth City area is from years long gone by.
The Gaiety Theater was an African-American theater until sometime into the sixties—after closing It was turned into a church.

DavidDynamic on July 4, 2011 at 12:21 pm

The rather odd name and location of this theater has driven me nuts. The name seems unique—while looking at it today, I saw a prominent Eliz. City & SE Virginia family name-KRAMER. The theater name could have been an amalgam of the name Al Kramer or A. L. Kramer. Google does not come up with anything Arabic that might have been the namesake. The impressive building on the corner of E. Main and N. McMorrine is the Kramer Building. It appears that the white stuccoed building to the rear of the Kramer building is the theater. Of course, this could be coincidental and my imagination running wild-since I have no documentation.

Traveling farther down N. McMorinne to E. Colonial Ave. brings one to the Center Theater. The entrance and original marquee were at the notched corner. I think I saw a source that said it was converted to apartments circa early ‘70s. The name Center Square appears on what would be a marquee. The Center Theater had its name in neon on a vertical fin and the movie titles were displayed on a horizontal marquee.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 4, 2011 at 3:52 pm

You could well be right about the connection between the names Alkrama and Kramer, David. A scan of the newspaper item I cited in the description of the theater is available online here. Part of the scan is too dark to read, but the readable part of the article does mention a Mr. Kramer being involved in the project, though it doesn’t make any explicit any connection between the names Kramer and Alkrama. Noting some of the guests at the opening, the article includes

“…little Vera Scott, who has the honor of suggesting the name Alkrama, and to whom is due the fact that Elizabeth City’s new theatre has a new name- one that will hardly be found in other city or town and yet that is as euphonious as the best sounding of the old favorites.”
A few lines farther on, the article says
“…Messrs. Kramer and Nutter deserved praise for the enterprise with which they had carried out their project and for the faith they had shown in Elizabeth City.”
The 1913-1914 edition of Julius Cahn’s theatrical guide lists the Alkrama Theatre, Kramer & Nutter, managers. The newspaper article doesn’t say how old little Vera Scott was in 1912, but she is undoubtedly long gone now, so the story of how she arrived at the name Alkrama may be lost to history, unless it’s preserved in some old publication as yet unavailable on the Internet.

The 1912 newspaper article says that the Alkrama replaced the older Gaiety as Elizabeth City’s leading theater. The Gaiety was listed in the 1910-1911 Cahn guide as a 350-seat house that was at the time being used only for vaudeville and moving pictures. The manager of the Gaiety was John Nutter.

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