Bristol Theatre

3415 Summer Avenue,
Memphis, TN 38122

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Additional Info

Functions: Retail

Styles: Art Deco

Nearby Theaters

Bristol Theatre

The Bristol Theatre opened in 1929, not long after the Airdome across the street closed. The auditorium was built behind a row of store fronts, making a long slender lobby which ran to the middle of the block. The slender lobby was fronted by a box office so narrow, there was barely room for one person to sit down. It was one of the few neighbourhood theatres with a balcony. It is not known if it was a separated balcony.

The Bristol Theatre survived until 1977, playing neighbourhood type programs. The entry building exists as a storefront, but the auditorium has been demolished for parking.

(Note) Another small theatre the Highland Heights Theatre was in the next block east for only a year or so in 1926-1927 and was destroyed by a fire.

Contributed by JackCoursey, Vincent Astor

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

Oscarcl on April 7, 2013 at 7:41 am

Vincent, you are the expert and I defer to you. Did you ever attend the old Bristol? My childhood would not have been the same without it. Attended your presentation at MHI. I have a book published last year about old Memphis memorabilia, including references to old theatres. One whold chapter is devoted to saturday Afternoons at the Bristol.

vastor on May 23, 2013 at 1:03 pm

The film I remember most at the Bristol was a double-feature, Murders in the Rue Morgue and House of Wax (non-3-d). We went to other theatres, but lived further in town. We mostly went to first-run at the Plaza or Park or downtown until the Paramount opened. What is the name of your book? I’d like to see it, if I haven’t come across it in my research for my new book. Am picking up the project of doing a lot of updating to Cinema Treasures and will get a Bristol photo soon.

Oscarcl on May 23, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Vincent— My book is called CAPTURING THE REEL WORLD. It is not available except from me yet. I had a book signing at Davis Kidd (Laurelwood Booksellers) and did well but I am not much of a self-promoter. Maybe we could exchange books. I work at MHI and I know you are involved there as well. I’ll leave a copy with June for you.Charlie Lambert

PS My favorite movie from Bristol days was THEM! scared me out of my wits.

vastor on June 6, 2013 at 9:09 pm

A photo of the Bristol has been posted.

montgomerypaul on June 10, 2013 at 3:19 pm

You know your old when you had you first date at The Bristol. I am suprised no one has mentioned the big rats that use to run accross the seat Isle and accross the front. THat was in late 60s and early 70s. Man I loved Memphis back then !

montgomerypaul on June 10, 2013 at 3:23 pm

We Saw “Wait untill Dark”

Projectguy on June 13, 2013 at 9:56 pm

I worked part-time for Mitch as a projectionist at the theatre. It was the most fun I had ever had. This was in 1968. I have some very memories of that time

Oscarcl on June 14, 2013 at 4:06 am

If you lived in Highland Heights, you very likely went to this theatre often. It was cheap, close, showed more movies/cartoons/serials/etc than you could digest. They had the best popcorn (real popcorn), nickel and dime candies. That poor lady who was the manager in the 50s had her hands full on Saturday afternoon with a house full of wandering kids and fights and sneaks who didn’t pay to get in. What a fun time to be alive that was. I will never forget those simple, innocent days of my youth.

Iceberg on October 17, 2017 at 8:08 am

I think the Bristol closed around May of 1977 unless it operated for a while without newspaper ads (which a few theaters did at some point). However, I think it did close in 1977 with seats being removed, etc.

Jake Bottero
Jake Bottero on March 5, 2022 at 5:48 pm

NOT demolished. retail these days.

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