112 S. Washington Street,
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In its development stages called the ‘New Theatre’, the venue opened with a preview benefit lecture as the Yazoo Theatre on September 29, 1908. F.E. Mathews was the architect and it was run by Erlich Bros. & Coleman who had a circuit of theaters located in Louisiana and Mississippi. The official grand opening was October 8, 1908 with the play, “45 Minutes from Broadway.”
The Yazoo Theatre was among the very last buildings constructed healing the wounds left in the a town that was decimated by a fire caused by a boy playing with matches one block from the city’s center on a windy day. It took the local newspaper almost one full page just to list what was lost that day. The entire commercial district burned to the ground including the Citizens' Opera House which had only opened five years prior on April 10, 1899. All but one of its churches along with its 1872-built court house, the new library and a school under construction were spared.
Virtually everything was rebuilt in 1905 and 1906 in the same spot in Yazoo City’s commercial district but raising funding for the new opera house was more challenging. When it opened, it was said to be a great, culminating event for the town’s comeback.
The Yazoo Theatre switched to a policy of motion pictures and vaudeville onMarch 23, 1912. The city welcomed the change and the lower prices with kids just a nickel and adults 10 to 15 cents.
Mrs. E.B. Devoto became the third operator of the theater and had great success with the Yazoo and her Star Theater. The Saenger Amusement Company bought her out taking over both theaters on April 1, 1920 with Devoto still the manager. But the Yazoo burned down on July 9, 1924. Saenger sent its architect but decided against reopening.
Devoto rebuilt in the same spot launching the New Yazoo Theatre April 27, 1925 with Gloria Swanson in “Madame Sans Gene.” Gulf States closed the theatre on May 3, 1979 with “The Evictors”. It was demolished in December of 1979 and has its own Cinematreasures page.
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