Historic Markers Across Alabama

Bay Theater

Marker ID:  
Location: On 2nd Street Southeast and 4th Avenue South (Alabama Route 24), Red Bay, AL.
County: Franklin
Coordinates: N 34° 26.448    W 088° 8.59
  34.4408    -88.14316666
Style: Mounted **
Waymark: None


T. A. Wilson built the theater in 1927. Since Red Bay had no electricity at that time, he used a Delco System. Shortly after, electricity became available and he had to switch from Delco to Alabama Power. When he first started in the business, he rented the back of a store on back street. He then built a building near the location of the Community Spirit Bank today. When the school burned in 1926, some classes were held there. The Red Bay Church of Christ congregation also met in the theater prior to their building a church in 1927.

In the early years, movies were silent. In 1927, shortly after the new theater was built, talk movies came in. The theater was about the only entertainment people had access to. It had a divided balcony to accommodate blacks and whites. The balcony was a favorite seating area for couples.

Movies would run all day and some people would stay all day. Mr. Wilson had a cowbell he would stay all day. Mr. Wilson had a cowbell he would ring to let people know the movie was about to start. There was a window in the projection room upstairs. He would hold the cowbell out the window to ring it. He also would throw out balloons with tickets in them. People scrambled to get the balloons even though the tickets were only ten cents. Popcorn was five cents.

Over the years, many famous entertainers appeared in person at the theater. Actors that drew a crowd were: Tim McCoy, Ken Maynard, Hopalong Cassidy, Tex Ritter, Jesse James drew the biggest crowd of all. At times, the line to get into the theater was two blocks long."Gone With the Wind” also drew big crowd.

Guynes and Frances Walden owned and operated the theater for several years, as did Clyde A. Jackson. The building burned in 2004.

Erected 2012.

End of Bay Theater