Rialto Theater

108 South Avenue,
Petersburg, VA 23803

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Additional Info

Architects: Charles Thaddeus Russell

Nearby Theaters

Rialto Theater

The Rialto Theater was designed by African-American architect Charles T. Russell. It was built in 1923, and operated as a movie theatre for African-American’s during the 1920’s.

Over the years, the Rialto Theater held a number of famous acts, and all of the greatest black performers played there including James Brown, Sam Cooke, Jerry Butler, Chubby Checker, The Shirelles, The Mills Brothers and many others. Hollywood celebrities such as John Wayne and Joseph Cotton were also visitors to the Rialto Theater.

"The Triangle" or "Avenue" was the center of African-American culture in the city.

We are hoping someone will come along and decide to save this theatre which was used at some point as a barbers shop and living area. It is now boarded up with vines growing on it. Sadly, the building was declared unsafe and was quickly demolished January 9, 2015.

Contributed by scott

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on June 5, 2010 at 5:13 am

A couple of pics here:


Short little story here about the Triangle district including the theater:

View link

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on June 8, 2010 at 9:17 am

Thanks, SilconSam!

Hope the theater and area gets saved. As time goes by, if anyone hears anything let us know.

ghamilton on March 5, 2011 at 1:44 pm

It looks BAD.Going downhill fast.It is quite a small place.Petersburg,overall,is a sad place,with a street here and there getting attention,while three go downhill.

ghamilton on March 5, 2011 at 1:45 pm

The pathetic fact is that this ruin is the most intact old theater left in Petersburg.

Robert L. Bradley
Robert L. Bradley on June 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm

I’m wondering if that is the theater that later became Barney’s, and was later operated as the Remmie around 1965. It seems to be the same location.

YogaOne on January 7, 2015 at 10:25 pm

Sad news:


ChesterfieldCharlie on January 10, 2015 at 9:34 am

Sadly, last week this theater started to collapse and public safety dictated that it be demolished, which was done yesterday, 1/9/15. Many locals gathered to witness the event, with many bemoaning the fact that the building couldn’t be saved. Of course, none of these people had made any effort to accomplish this!

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