Old Daisy Theatre

329 Beale Street,
Memphis, TN 38104

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Related Websites

Historic Daisy Theatre (Official)

Additional Info

Functions: Banquet Hall, Live Performances

Styles: Neo-Classical

Previous Names: Daisy Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Old Daisy Theatre in 2011 at Night

The Daisy Theatre is a prime surving example of nickelodeon architecture from the early cinema era. The tiny hall features a grand half dome entrance on Memphis’s famous Beale Street. It was constructed in 1912 and a loan was secured on a handshake.

The Daisy Theatre is unusual in that the stage and screen are on the sidewalk end. Double doors on either side of the half-dome enter into small vestibules one on either side of the stage. Emerging from the vestibules, you have the audience looking at you!

There is a small balcony, vaguely horse-shoe shaped, supported from above with iron rods. This is the reason for the reverse design, the fire escapes from the balcony and booth could only open onto the alley behind the building. There was no lobby at all, just hallways.

During much of the 20th century Beale Street served as the business and entertainment center for African-Americans from all over the Mid-South. Despite its tiny stage, the Daisy Theatre was a prime performing venue on the so-called “Chitlin' Circuit” from the 1930’s up into the 1960’s.

In 1941, the New Daisy Theatre was built directly across the street. It too survives and is used as a concert venue.

During the 1980’s the “Old Daisy” was extensively renovated and reopened as a Beale Street Blues Museum. Today it is in use as a banquet hall providing live entertainment.

Contributed by Will Dunklin

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on March 23, 2005 at 12:34 pm

Did the New Daisy also show movies? If so, you should add it to CinemaTreasures as well.

During the time that both have been open, have they always officially used the names ‘Old Daisy’ and ‘New Daisy’?

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on March 23, 2005 at 1:51 pm

The “New Daisy” actually has that name on its marquee. The Old Daisy just says “Daisy” on the front: don’t know if it’s had other names through the years, but it is always refered to as the “Old Daisy” now. I’ll get the New Daisy on the site soon, it was a “stage show and feature” theatre for many years. (So many theatres, so little time.)

Backseater on October 9, 2005 at 4:06 pm

I never went to either Daisy, but remember going to the Orpheum (then the Malco) in the early 1960s, and looking up Beale from Main and marvelling at the incredible level of activity. Much later in the late 1970s on Sunday mornings I would go biking in the area, and after my ritual “Circumnavigation of the Orpheum” would ride up Beale to the bus garage and then over to Central/Peabody and back East to the MSU area. I must have gone up Beale St. dozens of times while they were renovating it, so it was like watching the renovation in time-lapse. For most of the buildings, they propped up the facades and then tore down and rebuilt the buildings behind them. I think both Daisys (and maybe also the famous Schwab’s Drug Store) were spared this indignity and just conventionaly renovated, but I could be wrong. There was a modern 3-or 4-plex in the area at that time called the Muhammad Ali Cinema, said to be at least partially owned or backed by Mr. Ali himself. I don’t remember exactly where it was, but I did go there once to see “Take a Hard Ride,” an African-American-oriented Italian western with Jim Brown, Jim Kelly, and Fred Williamson—not to mention Dana Andrews, Lee Van Cleef, Catherine Spaak, and Barry Sullivan. I saw the cast list in the newspaper ad and said, “This I’ve got to see!” As I recall it, everybody was very cordial. Best wishes.

JackCoursey on October 12, 2005 at 5:07 pm

Here are a couple of recent photos of the Daisy. It currently appears to be in good shape and is being used as a rental facility for meetings, banquets and other events.

davidcoppock on November 4, 2016 at 9:09 am

A row of chairs from the Daisy Theatre was brought on an episode of American Pickers(episode – Alien vs. picker) from a guy named Prince Mongo.

David_Schneider on March 6, 2017 at 9:54 am

Does anyone know if there are any cinemas in this 1910’s architectural style still operating anywhere? Or are there any more recently built designed to replicate this early movie-going experience?

The Old Daisy is the only such building I’m aware of so far that still exists.

Is it called “Nickelodeon style”? This page designates this theater as “Neo-Classical”, but the other examples in that category on Cinema Treasures don’t look like nickelodeons to me. Some in the “Neo-Vintage” category are maybe closer, but should “Nickelodeon”, if that’s what it is, have its own architectural style category?

It would be neat to be able to visit such a theater still showing movies, with the pre-marquee signage out front in what I call “Come see the picture show” style.

Historic photos of some examples: Grand, Galax,, Majestic, Comet.

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