AIRWAY 2366 Lamar Av
 

The Airway opened 1942  .   Closed  1980s  .  Seats 1100  .  Demolished after 1983   

Kemmons Wilson built the Airway Theater in 1941:  Kemmons Wilson made his Airway Theater a family operation, with wife Dorothy behind the ticket window, and his mother, Doll at the candy counter.  Kemmons took the tickets himself.  Click here to read the full story in his own words.

The Airway was one of the larger neighborhood theaters. It had a spacious auditorium with a balcony.  In size it would compare favorably to the Rosemary but with less ornate decoration. In the 60s it was already a porn house, showing mostly Euro-trash.

 

The balcony was "reserved for couples only."   The Airway was still in operation during the early 1980's.  It has since been demolished.  Controversy exits over the name:  Is it Airways or Airway?  The Kemmons Wilson family answer is "Airway".

 
 

Click on small photos for an enlargement

 

Kemmons Crew at Airway

Airway

Lobby 1949 - Dottie and Doll

Airway Investment 1948

 
 

Airway 1955 1947 Ad 1953 Airway ad Airways Adult 1967

Airways Adult 1972

 
 
       
             Airway location...        
 
 
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Vincent Astor:  "Kemmons Wilson, who later founded Holiday Innís got his start selling popcorn from a rented popcorn machine in the lobby of The Airways".  2011  (See response from the Kemmons Wilson Family below)

Kemmons Wilson Family:   "...the quote from Vincent Astor...is incorrect.  The correct information is found on page 15 of  Kemmons'  book.  When Kemmons was selling popcorn outside the MEMPHIAN THEATER in 1930, the Airway(s) Theater had not been built".  7/13/2012  (Webmaster's Note:  The correct information does appear on the Memphian Theater page)

Kemmons Wilson Family:   "...discussed the issue of Airways/Airway Theater.  We also thought the name was Airways because it was at the corner of Airways Blvd and Lamar.  However, after zooming in on the photo...I see the signage above the marque reads "AIRWAY" and the emblem below the signage is a large 'A' with wings behind it, as in airmen's wings.  Kemmons was an airman during WWII.  However, he opened the Airway(s) shortly after his marriage in December 1941 and, although he was a pilot (of sorts) at that time, he did not really earn his wings until later.  Things that make you go hmmmmmm!  (I just went back to Spence with this information and he agrees that it was probably originally The Airway Theater)".  7/13/2012

 

 

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Credits

 

The Historic-Memphis website does not intentionally post copyrighted photos and material without permission or credit.  On occasion a "non-credited" photo might possibly be posted because we were unable to find a name to give credit.  Because of the nature of our non-commercial, non-profit, educational website, we strongly believe that these photos would be considered "Fair Use.  We have certainly made no monetary gain, although those using this website for historic or Genealogy research have certainly profited.  If by chance, we have posted your copyrighted photo, please contact us, and we'll remove it immediately, or we'll add your credit if that's your choice.  In the past, we have found that many photographers volunteer to have their works included on these pages and we'll  also do that if you contact us with a photo that fits a particular page. 

 

The "Historic-Memphis" website would like to acknowledge and thank the following for their contributions which helped make this website possible:  Memphis Public Library, Memphis University Library, Memphis Law Library, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Memphis Press Scimitar, Shelby County Register of Deeds, Memphis City Schools, Memphis Business Men's Club, Memphis Chamber of Commerce, Memphis City Park Commission, Memphis Film Commission, Carnival Memphis, Memphis Historical Railroad Page, Memphis Heritage Inc, Beale Street Historic District, Cobblestone Historic District, Memphis Historic Districts, Vance Lauderdale Family Archives, Tennessee State Archives, Library of Congress, Kemmons Wilson Family, Richard S. Brashier, Lee Askew, George Whitworth, Woody Savage and many individuals whose assistance is acknowledged on the pages of their contributions.  Special thanks to Memphis Realtor, Joe Spake, for giving us carte blanche access to his outstanding collection of contemporary Memphis photos.

We do not have high definition  copies of the photos on these pages.  If anyone wishes to secure high definition photos,  you'll have to contact the photographer  or the collector.  (To avoid any possibility of contributing to SPAM, we do not maintain a file of email addresses for anyone who contacts us).