New Roxy Theatre

783 W. Bowery Street,
Akron, OH 44307

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Pantages Theatre, Doll Theatre, Doll's Theatre

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The Panatages Theatre was a silent-era theatre at W. Bowery Street and Thornton Street opened at least by 1914. The 300-seat venue played movies and featured some live entertainment and political meetings. Nettie M. and William S. Doll took on the venue renaming it as the Doll Theatre and sometimes Doll’s Theatre. The Dolls also wired the venue for sound.

The couple sold their venue to Mrs. T. Barden and H.L. Mahone in 1931 who were still operating the theatre in 1932. Its name was changed to the New Roxy Theatre on January 28, 1932. The pair sold the venue to Paul F. Jones in August of 1932. But the theatre’s lack of advertising and lack of coverage suggest a policy switch to African-American programming and makes an exact closure date tough to pinpoint.

The venue became the Ex-Serviceman’s Club in the 1940’s followed by a St. Vincent’s De Paul Thrift store in the 1950’s. In the early-1960’s, a plan was devised to ease traffic issues would only displace those in “substandard areas.” The former Pantages Theatre was in the substandard category along with adjoining properties in what was one of the city’s more vibrant Black neighborhoods. The building was razed for the Akron Innerbelt project that destroyed continuity for the area’s African-American citizens and decimated property values.

The promise of the Innerbelt project was not realized on the traffic side but it took care of the Bowery/Thornton business district along with a number of residences. If it hadn’t been for the Innerbelt project, the area would have likely been decimated by Akron’s urban plan of 1963 defining such areas as redevelopment zones, rehabilitation areas or - the more usual playbook of cities around the U.S. which carved up similar areas - in the name of urban renewal. However, the former Pantages / Doll / New Roxy is in the shadow the small, successful section of the Innerbelt that was actually completed.

Contributed by dallasmovietheaters
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