545 Main Street,
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This started life in the mid-1880’s as the Danville Opera House and was also called the Academy of Music. It was one the first theaters located in Danville. In 1883 during a Democratic convention held in the theater, a race riot took place just in front of the theater across the street at the old post office. The riot lasted briefly and ended with a number of deaths. The riot later became known as ‘The Riot of 1883’.
The theater was three stories and on top of the theater was located the Virginia Inn, a hotel that was mainly used for the performers at the theater. The theater had two balconies and sixteen opera boxes, eight on each side. It was renamed the Majestic Theater sometime in the early-1900’s and later became the Virginia Theater around the 1930’s. The theater was converted to a movie house with the outbreak of motion pictures. At the end of its life, the Virginia Theater showed mainly western movies and the auditorium was demolished in the early-1960’s due to structural issues. The theater auditorium space became the site of a parking lot for city employees and a law office, with only the original brick foundation remaining and a mass of steel that was once the staircase that led to the projection booth..
All that remains is the first floor of the building that houses a few shops. The original entrance to the lobby was long and narrow and is now occupied by a barber shop.
Camillia Williams, a native of Danville, and Geraldine Farrar performed on the stage at the Virginia. Camillia Williams was born in Danville in 1920 and made her New York operatic debut in 1946, singing the title role in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.
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