When you are the First State, you are sure to have some historic spots to explore. This is definitely the case when it comes to historic theaters. From Wilmington to the coast, Delaware is full of these national treasures, and most of them play host to various events like musical acts and movies. Here are the most incredible historic theaters in Delaware.
The Queen was originally built as a hotel in the early 1800s and functioned until it was converted into a movie theatre in 1916. In operation to almost the 1960s, the Queen lay dormant for more than 50 years until reopening in 2011. A staple in downtown Wilmington, this historical gem is now home to live musical acts, movie screenings, and more.
The Grand Opera House, also known as the Grand or Masonic Hall, opened in 1871 “as a home for the Grand Lodge of the Masons for the lordly sum of $100,000.” The 1,208-seat opulent and historic Grand Opera House has been an icon for more than 140 years and has hosted acts such as Buffalo Bill Cody, and John Philip Sousa.
After World War II, movies were all the rage in the States, and brothers-in-law Pete Hancock and “Skeet” Campbell decided to take advantage of that fact. So, in 1948 the two purchased some land and got to work on a “single-screen theater with art deco interior showing first-run movies.” It was touch and go after Hollywood’s “Digital or Die” proclamation, but, somehow, the Clayton remains.
Formerly known as the DuPont Theater, this historical spit is a 1,252-seat Victorian with roots back to 1913. As part of the luxury Hotel du Pont, we are told the Playhouse “is the oldest continuously operating legitimate theatre in the country.” Now, a member of the Grand Opera House family, the Playhouse presents a six-show Broadway series and an acclaimed children's series.
The Candlelight Theatre began as the Robinhood Theatre in the 1930s, and it featured summer stock theatre until the mid-1960s. The, in 1969, it was transformed in Delaware’s first Dinner Theatre, and, for over 30 years, that is how it remained. Finally, in 2004, after some renovations by the Millers, the dinner theatre reopened under the name “New Candlelight Theatre.”
The Milton Theatre has a special meaning to those in Sussex County. Erected in 1910, the two-story building has played many roles over the years, from town hall to basketball court, but perhaps its most popular role was as an Art Deco movie house in the 1930s, featuring silent films. Surviving at least three major fires, today is host dinner theatre and live musical and theatrical performances.
The Delaware Children's Theatre occupies the historic New Century Club building, which was built in 1893. The DCT moved in 1982 and, now in its fourth decade, the organization has presented hundreds of critically-acclaimed performances. Come watch as they bring the classics to life and showcase the many young actors from around the area.
With roots dating to 1922, the Everett Theatre was designed by renowned architects W.H. Hoffman and Paul J. Henon, Jr. The film “Dead Poets Society” was filmed at St. Andrew School in Middletown, Delaware, as well as the beloved Everett Theatre. The theatre is featured in the film as showing “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.”
Originally housing the “E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company,” established in 1802, this 221-seat theatre was renovated in 1935 and now shows first-run indie and foreign films every weekend. Equipped with new digital projection and sound system and a liquor license, Theatre N was the project of the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs in 2002 under then-Mayor, James Baker.