Early MEMPHIS THEATRES ... prior to 1900 


Assembly Hall  .  263 Main - Listed 1870-77 Directory .  See listing above.

Beethoven Hall  .  2nd and Union - 1896-98 Directory .
Bella Union  .  37-39 Jefferson - 1877 Directory .
Brooms' Opera  .  Jefferson between Main 3rd  .  1871-72 directories.

Crisp's Gaiety  .   1859 directory.  Crisp's featured famous performers such as Edwin Booth and Charlotte Cushman.  Famed opera diva Jenny Lind first sang in Memphis at this theatre in 1851.  See Leubrie's above.

Coliseum   .  Madison-Tucker  .  1898 directory.
Gentry's Theatre  .    1889-92 Directory.  See May's Bijou.
May's Bijou  .  18 Washington  .  1888 Directory.. 
Memphis Theatre  .   See Leubrie's Theatre above.
National Theatre    Washington  .  1865 directory.
New Memphis Theatre  .   See Leubrie's Theatre above.
New Washington  .    1893-94 Directory.  See May's Bijou.
Odd Fellows Hall  .  Main-Court Square.   1859-1923 Directories.  See Odd Fellows Hall above.
Olympic      1895 Directory.  See May's Bijou .

People's Theatre  . 1985-87 Directory.  See May's Bijou.

Varieties  Main corner Washington  .  1867-1874 directories.
White's Opera   .  See Bella Union.

From "Old Folks Historical Record"  Volumn 1 - 1874-75:  The first building used in Memphis for theatricals was located in a block of frame buildings called "Blue Ruin" at the northwest corner of Jackson and Chickasaw (now called Front Row).  This was about 1831.

About 1838-40, the next Theatre, was situated on Market Street, south side, between Front Row and Front Alley.  It was an old frame building, with a rough stage, scenery and a Drop Curtain used to change scenes.  In 1841, a large frame stable (where Webster Block now stands) was converted into a very genteel looking theatre by John S. Potter.  It was used a few seasons, before it burned.

In 1849, the building on the northeast corner of Washington and Center streets was made into a well-arranged Theatre by Tom Lennox.  Many of the brightest Theatrical Stars performed here.  By 1858-59, this theatre has changed into a Variety Theatre.  About 1855-56, the New Memphis was constructed expressly for a Theatre by James Wickersham.  Memphis' real theatrical history begins with this theatre.



These theatres were all located in the Jefferson-Washington area.  Three actual addresses are known:  37-39 Jefferson, 18 Washington, and Jefferson between Main and 3rd.  It's obvious that many of these names shared the same building, but because they didn't last long, it's not possible to determine which ones.  Broom's Opera is listed in the 1877 Directory.  Bella Union in 1877.  White's Opera in 1874.  May's Bijou in 1888.  These four probably were in the same building.  People's Theatre is listed in the 1885-87 Directory.  The Washington in 1893-94.  Gentry's in 1889-92.  Olympic in 1895.  National in 1865.  Varieties in 1867-74.


Broom's - Daily App 1870

Broom's  - Daily Appeal 1870

Broom's Burns 1871


Varieties - Daily Ap 1868

Varieties - Daily Ap 1869

Varieties - Daily Ap 1869

 Daily 1869



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