The Douglass Theatre was the premier movie theatre and vaudeville hall open to African-American citizens in the city. The theatre was opened in 1912 by the successful African American entrepreneur and investor, Charles Douglass, the son of a former slave. In a time of racism and segregation, Douglass saw opportunity in serving the growing demand for entertainment of the black population of Macon.
Photo Credit: Nnommand
The facility hosted early jazz and blues greats such as Ida Cox, Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey and comedy stars such as Butterbeans and Susie while at the same time running feature-length films and serials popular in theatres throughout the country. During the 1920’s, the theatre was an important venue for early African-American films written and produced by blacks for black audiences as well. Musical stars such as Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington filled The Douglass before moving on to the city auditorium in the 1940’s. During the 1950s and 60s, the theatre offered up and coming performers like Otis Redding, Little Richard and James Brown the opportunity for exposure.
Photo Credit: Chris R. Sheridan & Co.
The theatre remained in operation until 1970s when it closed its doors. It was dormant for many years before being saved from the “wrecking ball” in 1990s by a community group which became the non-profit “Friends of the Douglass Theatre”. Subsequent major renovations added central heating and air, state of the art stage lighting, sound and cinema equipment as well as new seating. Reopening in 1997, the Douglass Theatre today is operated by the City of Macon and is available to be rented out for a variety of public and private events.
355 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Macon, GA 31201
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THE DOUGLASS THEATRE ON FACEBOOK