Magic Lantern Theatre

171 N. Main Street,
Suffolk, VA 23434

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Pitts' Theaters Inc.

Styles: Tudor Revival

Previous Names: Chadwick Theatre, Pitts Chadwick Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Magic Lantern Theatre

The Chadwick Theatre was opened January 26, 1925. In the 1940’s and into the 1950’s it was operated by Pitts' Theaters Inc. In later years it was renamed Magic Lantern Theatre.

In around 1982, the Magic Lantern Theatre was destroyed by a fire, which was arson (said to be an insurance job!) The last movie screened was said to be “Friday 13th Part 3”.

The front section of the theatre and the marquee survive today.

Contributed by Lost Memory, Daniel Perry

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

ghamilton on July 9, 2006 at 6:31 pm

I first saw downtown Suffolk about 1988.Still had a lovely big hotel and a Leggett a bldg that looked like a closed theater.But the place now is useless.As the peanut has lost importance for the area and other ravages,Suffolk has not had much good happening.

kseward on July 11, 2007 at 12:22 pm

I only went to the Chadwick Theatre twice, once to see Hotel and another time to see Gunn (a movie spinoff of the Peter Gunn series). I was just a little kid and not even in school yet. Sorry to say, I can remember the movies but not the Chadwick Theatre itself.

Maybe if my elder siblings or anyone else has any recollections, I can pass them on.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on April 23, 2012 at 8:32 am


171 north main street


wsasser on June 5, 2012 at 1:55 pm

There was a newspaper story here when the theater burned down. Arson was suspected from the start because the expensive projectors were not found in the ruins

bufffilmbuff on July 22, 2013 at 10:12 pm

I remember there was an illuminated clock to one side of the screen… something I never saw anywhere else. Movies I saw there: BACHELOR IN PARADISE, DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, and LADY SINGS THE BLUES. By the early 70’s it was not a place you wanted to be after dark.

Coffindan on August 23, 2016 at 12:21 pm

I saw Jaws 2 there and Godzilla vs. Megalon. It was my favorite theater even though I hardly ever got to go there. The downtown area in the late 70’s and early 80’s just wasn’t a place to go at night. Well at least my parents thought so. Plus by this time it was starting to show adult films so it was definitely a theater my parents were not going to spend money at. I miss that bijou sign. In it’s place now stands a show store and it boasts a bijou as an apparent homage.

It was several years ago I must have stumbled across this site looking for info on the old Chadwick/Magic Lantern Theater. I provided the info on Friday the 13th Part 3 being the last movie screened. I believe I am correct on that. I am a huge horror fan and always wanted to see that film when it came to the Magic Lantern. However I was only 11 years old when it hit theaters.

jimw1937 on November 11, 2016 at 9:13 am

I saw my first movies there in the 1940s.

wsasser on December 8, 2016 at 10:25 pm

November 24, 1982 – Story in Norfolk Journal and Guide
a.Fire heavily damaged the Magic Lantern Theater in Suffolk November 18, 1982
b.Fire officials have charged three men with arson in the early morning blaze.

Notes Note 1: The men arrested were the owners Note 2: Arson was suspected from the outset due to the fact that the projectors had been removed from the theatre prior to the fire.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 24, 2018 at 7:56 pm

The Chadwick Theatre opened on January 26, 1925. The house was one of several new theaters featured in a portfolio in the March 28 issue of Exhibitors Trade Review (scan at Internet Archive.)

Though the article failed to name the architect, it did say that the interiors were inspired by 16th century English architecture. With their beamed ceilings the auditorium and foyer did resemble the Tudor style more than anything else, though the screens for the $25,000 Wurlitzer Hope-Jones unit orchestra were sufficiently elaborate that they might have been more of a nod to the later Jacobean style.

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