Wednesday, February 6, 2013
W. C. Handy Theatre
Opened 1947 . Seats 1102. Closed 1955
Chalmers Cullins, Edward Cullins, Nate Evans, Kemmons Wilson and Bob Bostwick were all partners in the W. C. Handy Theatre. The Handy featured top live entertainment and movies - along with late shows "for Whites".
The HANDY is listed in the 1948 through 1958 Memphis Directories.
The W. C. Handy Theatre was built in 1946, in the brief post-World War Two era when it was thought that vaudeville might return. Consequently the W. C. Handy Theatre was built with a stage and booth equipped for small stage shows as well as movies.
This theater was built for Memphis' black community during the regrettable era of segregation.
The architect was Raymond B. Spencer who designed a handsome dog-leg plan than also included a row of store-fronts. The single story lobby opened into the adjacent storefront which was a "milk bar" and doubled as the theater’s concession stand.
Seating was on the main floor, but small “cry rooms” were provided on either side of the projection booth.
When I last saw the W. C. Handy Theatre, the roof was going, the storefronts empty and the under-stage dressing rooms knee deep in water.
The theatre was demolished in December 2012.
W. C. Handy Theatre Pictures