324 Beale Street,
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Architects: Robert Thomas Martin
Previous Names: Beale Street Palace Theatre
The first theatre opened at this address in 1908 and was a storefront nickelodeon called the Pastime Theatre. It was opened by Sam Zerilla and closed in 1917. In 1919, Anselmo Barrasso and the Pacini brothers, Lorenzo and Angelo, opened the Palace Theatre at the same address. The original Pastime Theatre space became the lobby, and a new expanded auditorium was constructed behind the building with a full stage, and the new Palace Theatre became the largest ‘colored’ theatre on it circuit.
It was famed more for stage entertainment than movies (in later years a film after the stage show might play to an empty house). The acts were so popular that the Thursday Night Rambles were scheduled for white patrons only at midnight. A story persists that white people were sometimes permitted to sit in the balcony for regular shows. After World War II, Beale Street was beginning to decline and the building was modernized in 1949 to compete with the brand-new Handy Theatre in the Orange Mound neighbourhood.
The Palace Theatre closed in 1962 and became so dilapidated that it fell to urban renewal, even though it had an important history. Today a nightclub occupies that address.
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