American Theatre

72-76 S. Cooper Street,
Memphis, TN 38104

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American Theatre

The American Theatre was opened in 1912. It stood with a group of very old buildings facing Cooper Street between Union Avenue and an alley. The American Theatre left this address in 1928 for a new location across the street at 51 S. Cooper Street.

The older buildings where this first American Theatre was located have been demolished for the construction of Playhouse on the Square in 2008-2009.

Contributed by Chief Bob Jensen, vastor

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

vastor on January 7, 2014 at 8:25 pm

The original American stood approximately across the street from Circuit Playhouse (Memphian Theatre). Before the new Playhouse on the Square was built, a portion of the building on the site was higher than the rest. That has been verified as the former auditorium of the American, the oldest of the three structures (which was also said to have had its screen behind the box office like the Old Daisy). The building torn down to build the new Playhouse on the Square was three connected buildings with different street addresses. I didn’t remember one area was taller and oblong until I first saw a mention of the American Theatre at that address. When the building was removed it had been remodeled many, many times and no real trace of its former uses was apparent. The only thing you could tell is that it was pretty old and decrepit. A theatre with this name is also listed in the 1929 City Directory at 51 S Cooper, the actual site of Circuit Playhouse (Memphian). The primary reason Playhouse on the Square is on Cinema Treasures is that it moved from the Memphian where it was previously listed. Playhouse also hosts part of the Indie Memphis Film Festival.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on March 29, 2014 at 12:27 pm

David Bowers' “Encyclopedia of Automated Musical Instruments” p.551 lists a Reproduco organ installed at the American Theatre, Memphis. There is no date, but certainly before 1928. Reproduco built hundreds of photoplayers for smaller theatres during the silent movie era: half-player-piano/half pipe organ/half sound effects machine.

vastor on April 13, 2014 at 5:46 pm

The photo shows the American Theatre during the short period when it was the Sunday home of East End Christian Church (now Central Christian Church)from January of 1923 to March 29, 1924. This is the only known photo. This image has a mark the original does not have so any theft can be recognized. Courtesy of Central Christian Church.

Jake Bottero
Jake Bottero on March 5, 2022 at 7:42 pm

Demolished long ago.

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