African American Theater Buildings

An Illustrated Historical Directory, 1900–1955


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About the Book

African American theater buildings were theaters owned or managed by blacks or whites and serving an African American audience. Nearly 2,000 such theaters, including nickelodeons, vaudeville houses, storefronts, drive-ins, opera houses and neighborhood movie theaters, existed in the 20th century, yet very little has been written about them.
In this book the African American theater buildings from 1900 through 1955 are arranged by state, then by city, and then alphabetically under the name by which they were known. The street address, dates of operation, number of seats, architect, whether it was a member of TOBA (Theater Owners Booking Association), type of theater (nickelodeon, vaudeville, musical, drama or picture), alternate name(s), race and name of manager or owner, whether the audience was mixed, and the fate of the theater are given where known. Commentary by theater historians is also provided.

About the Author(s)

The late Eric Ledell Smith was a historian specializing in African American history with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. He lived in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic Details

Eric Ledell Smith
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 294
Bibliographic Info: 41 photos, appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011 [2003]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4922-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0466-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix

Preface      xi

Introduction      1

Alabama      9

Arizona      21

Arkansas      21

California      26

Colorado      34

Connecticut      34

Delaware      34

District of Columbia      35

Florida      46

Georgia      61

Illinois      73

Indiana      84

Iowa      88

Kansas      88

Kentucky      89

Louisiana      91

Maryland      101

Massachusetts      114

Michigan      115

Minnesota      122

Mississippi      122

Missouri      129

Nebraska      135

Nevada      136

New Jersey      136

New Mexico      138

New York      139

North Carolina      150

Ohio      163

Oklahoma      170

Pennsylvania      175

South Carolina      192

Tennessee      198

Texas      203

Virginia      222

Washington      235

West Virginia      235

Wisconsin      237

Appendix 1—Numbers of Theater Buildings      239

Appendix 2—Architects      241

Appendix 3—Owners and Managers      242

Appendix 4—African American Drive-in Theaters      247

Bibliography      249

Index      253

Book Reviews & Awards

Winner, Ray and Pat Browne Best Reference Award—Popular Culture Association
“essential purchase”—ARBA.