Historic Markers Across Alabama

The Demopolis Theater District

Marker ID: AHA 
Location: on East Washington Street near Strawberry Avenue, Demopolis, Alabama
County: Marengo
Coordinates: N 32° 31.037    W 087° 50.176
  32.51728333    -87.83626666
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: None


Side 1:
Establishing a history of theaters in this district, the Braswell Theater introduced its ornate interior to Demopolis on October 23, 1902, with a performance of the melodrama Unorna. Built by Frederick Henry Braswell in galleries above his hardware store on Strawberry Avenue, the theater provided a local stage for operas, plays and minstrel shows into the 1920s. A popular silent screen star from Alabama, Henry B. Walthall, appeared live in the drama Taken In at the Braswell on April 15, 1921. The Elks Theater, the city's first"picture show,” opened October 1, 1915, in the building with a front palladium window constructed by John Cox Webb, Jr., on the corner of Strawberry and Washington streets. Braswell Theater partners Harry Simon and Tom Nonnenmacher acquired the Elks and gave it a new name, the Si-Non, for a February1, 1916, opening.

Side 2:
The Si-Non Theater featured silent motion pictures and personal appearances by celebrities until 1929 when it began a regular schedule of"talkies.” Famous boxer Jack Dempsey and escape artist Harry Houdini appeared at the Si-Non. After a management change in January, 1931, the Si-Non operated as the Lido Theater for its final four years. On September 14, 1935, the Marengo Theater at the intersection of Washington and Cedar celebrated its grand opening as the city's exclusive showplace for movies. A capacity crowd enjoyed the picture Two for Tonight, but a phone call from Hollywood star Jean Harlow to Mayor N.C. Floyd proved to be the evening's highlight. Originally operated by an Atlanta company, the Marengo was subsequently purchased in 1940 by Henry W. Webb, its first local owner.

Erected 2003 by Alabama Historical Association

End of The Demopolis Theater District