Macon Theatre

W. Northside Street,
Tuskegee, AL 36083

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: McLendon Theaters

Architects: Albert Howell, McKendree A. Tucker

Firms: Tucker & Howell

Styles: Streamline Moderne

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Macon Theatre

Opened in 1935, the Macon Theatre was a unique creation born of the South’s Jim Crow laws. Hired by by the Alabama Theatres Circuit and Atlanta exhibitor Oscar Oldknow to design their new 776-seat theatre in the college town of Tuskegee, Alabama, architect McKendree A. Tucker found that erecting a building with two identical auditoriums side-by-side would cost his client less than building a single-auditorium house with a balcony in which to segregate black patrons, as was the custom.

The result was perhaps the first twin movie theatre ever built, though unlike later twin theatres it featured not only two auditoriums, but duplicated every feature in its public areas, as the laws in Alabama then required such facilities as rest rooms and drinking fountains to be segregated.

Patrons of different races purchased tickets from different booths, and used separate entrances leading to separate lobbies. There were even two marquees, and each side of the theatre had its own air conditioning system. Each auditorium ran the same program, on a staggered schedule, but the two sides of the theatre had segregated staffs. Only one projection room served both auditoriums, however, and the entire operation had only one manager.

By 1950 it was operated by the McLendon Theatres chain. The Macon Theatre was closed in 1957, and re-opened under an independent operator in January 1960, still operating as a twin screen theatre with 336-seats on the African American screen and 324-seats on the whites only screen. It was still in operation as late as 1975, according to references in Boxoffice Magazine during that year.

Contributed by Joe Vogel

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on August 18, 2010 at 11:31 pm

Looks like it says “OPEN” on the marquee in 1982 picture.

irvl on August 19, 2010 at 1:30 am

This was truly a unique operation. I don’t recall ever hearing of side by side theatres being handled this way anywhere else.

50sSNIPES on July 10, 2022 at 1:49 am

Opened on April 29, 1935 with Will Rogers in “Life Begins At 40”, along with a Columbia Color Rhapsody (“Make Believe Revue”), a Goofytone newsreel, and a normal newsreel.

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