Documenting the American South


Going to the Show

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Joyland Theater (opened September 1909; closed spring 1911)

The Joyland was a downtown storefront movie theater located in one of the two storefront spaces on the first floor of the Bonitz Hotel Building at 129 Market Street, near the corner of Market and 2nd Street in downtown Wilmington. The space is noted on the 1910 Sanborn map as "moving pictures," and is approximately 20 feet wide and 75 feet deep. It does not appear to have admitted African Americans.

The Joyland took over the space previously occupied by the LeGrand Theater, when it was sold to Frank Peiffer after the death of its co-proprietor, Washington Wells, in January 1909.

Crystal Palace and Joyland - Ad - hours of operation, in North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Frank Peiffer (1882-1936) moved to Wilmington from Newark, New Jersey, around 1909. He was a musician who performed as "the expert and popular trap drummer" with the Lumina orchestra during the summer season of 1909.

Announcement of the opening of the Joyland appeared in the Wilmington Dispatch on September 20, 1909. Frank Peiffer was identified as the proprietor and Frank Banks as "engaged to sing the illustrated songs."

Matinees (afternoon performances) would be made "especially attractive for ladies and children," according to the article.

Explore the Joyland Ledger Expenses & Receipts

Courtesy of The Cape Fear Museum of Science and History