Documenting the American South


Going to the Show


119 N. Front, Wilmington, North Carolina

Dates of Operation 8/17/1917* - 1/21/1949*
Performance Types movies , musical performances , vaudeville
Capacity 1000 (10/22/1914)
900 (8/17/1917*)
Racial Policy presumed white
DescriptionThe Royal Theatre was located at 119 N. Front Street in downtown Wilmington, just north of the Orton Hotel and across the street from the Post Office Building. It was the third purpose-built theater to be erected in downtown Wilmington in the twentieth century and it was the first purpose-built movie theater to open in Wilmington.
NotesThe Royal was one of several buildings destroyed when the nearby Orton Hotel burned on January 21, 1949.
Building NotesThe site selected for the Royal was a vacant lot that had been used since 1911 as an outdoor movie venue, the Airdome. Occupying a site of 44 feet by 125 feet with a height equivalent to a three-story building, the Royal had a balcony accommodating 350 and an inclined floor.
Associated Persons
Bailey, George W. manager (1924*)
Howard, James Fox owner (4/24/1915)
Marcus, Jack lessee (7/31/1923*)
Marshall, R.D. projectionist (5/7/1916*)
Schuster, A.O. owner (10/22/1914)
Stephens, Burett H. architect (10/22/1914)
Wells, Percy W. owner (4/24/1915)
Associated Organizations
Howard-Wells Amusement Co. unknown
Rhodes & Underwood unknown (5/4/1915*)
Sterchi-Bancroft Company unknown (7/2/1915)



  1. Carolina Timeline Commentary
    Tags: admission price; music; renovation; re-opening; sound films
  2. Royal Theatre Timeline Commentary
    Tags: admission price; balcony; fire; hours of operation; organ; projectionist; purpose-built movie theater; seating capacity; vaudeville

Newspaper Clippings

  1. Builds Theatre - Howard and Wells to Lease House to be Erected by Schuster on Front - Airdome
    Wilmington Dispatch - 10/22/1914
    Tags: architect; manager; proposed theater; seating capacity; vaudeville
  2. Howard And Wells Buy Theatre Site
    Wilmington Dispatch - 4/24/1915
    Tags: architect; balcony; fire; proposed theater; renovation; seating capacity; ventilation
  3. Wilmington's Newest Playhouse
    Wilmington Dispatch - 4/24/1915
    Tags: airdome; proposed theater
  4. Contract is Awarded
    Wilmington Dispatch - 5/4/1915
    Tags: architect; proposed theater; purpose-built movie theater
  5. Contract Closed
    Wilmingoton Star - 7/2/1915
    Tags: architect; company; proposed theater
  6. The Royal Theatre
    Wilmington Dispatch - 8/12/1915
    Tags: opening notice; vaudeville
  7. Opens September 20th
    Wilmington Dispatch - 8/15/1915
    Tags: manager; opening notice
  8. Mirror Screen
    Wilmington Dispatch - 8/19/1915
    Tags: company
  9. Royal Theatre To Open Today
    Wilmington Dispatch - 9/27/1915
    Tags: company; hours of operation; music; opening notice; organ; program change; seating capacity; ventilation
  10. Property deed for Royal theater
    Wilmington Star - 11/10/1915
  11. Theatre Deal Closed Today - Howard and Wells are Now Lessees of Both Victoria and Grand Theatres
    Wilmington Star - 11/10/1915
    Tags: manager
  12. Close Deal for Theatres - Messrs. Howard and Wells, Owners of Bijou and Royal, Secure Leases on Victoria and Grand
    Wilmington Star - 11/11/1915
    Tags: manager
  13. Royal - Ad - censorship
    Wilmington Star - 4/21/1916
    Tags: actualities; admission price; censorship; children; color films; feature film; film title; morality
  14. In Charge of Projection - Royal
    Wilmington Star - 5/7/1916
    Tags: feature film; projectionist
  15. Royal - Ad - "The Ne'er Do Well" feature film
    Wilmington Star - 5/28/1916
    Tags: admission price; feature film; film title; hours of operation; program change
  16. Royal Opening Tomorrow - architect
    Wilmington Star - 12/17/1916
    Tags: admission price; architect; balcony; company; renovation; re-opening; vaudeville
  17. Royal - Ad - admission price
    Wilmington Star - 2/4/1917
    Tags: admission price; film title; minstrel shows; music; serials; vaudeville
  18. Grand - Ad - local film "Wilmington on the Screen"
    Wilmington Dispatch - 5/13/1917
    Tags: admission price; children; company; feature film; film title; local films
  19. Will Open New Victoria Theatre, Monday Feb. 3
    Wilmington Star - 1/12/1919
    Tags: company; opening notice; racial policy; renovation; separate entrance; vaudeville
  20. Motion Picture History In the Making In Story of Local Theatrical Moguls
    Wilmington Dispatch - 4/13/1919
    Tags: program change; tent; ventilation
  21. Howard-Wells Amusement Company, Bijou Amusement Company - Ad
    Wilmington Star - 9/28/1919
    Tags: company; program change; vaudeville
  22. Royal Theater Reopens Aug. 23
    Wilmington Star - 8/15/1920
    Tags: band or orchestra; company; hours of operation; manager; music; organ; renovation; re-opening; vaudeville
  23. Dr. W. A. Kamer to Open Office Here
    Wilmington Dispatch - 4/17/1921
  24. Royal - Ad - Amateur Night
    Wilmington Dispatch - 4/7/1922
    Tags: feature film; film title; minstrel shows; music
  25. Theater Building To Be Remodeled
    Wilmington News - 4/30/1923
    Tags: closing; manager; storefront theaters
  26. New Lessee Local Theatres Assumes Charge Property - Royal, Victoria - racial policy
    Wilmington Star - 7/31/1923
    Tags: admission price; balcony; band or orchestra; change in owner; company; film title; hours of operation; manager; music; program change; racial policy; vaudeville
  27. Amusement Company Will Lease Properties After Last of the Old Year - Victoria, Royal, Bijou
    Wilmington Dispatch - 12/24/1923
    Tags: admission price; change in owner; company; manager
  28. J. Marcus Leases Theaters Operated by Amusement Co. - May Open Another Picture Show on Front Street - Deal Effective January 1
    Wilmington Star - 12/25/1923
    Tags: company; manager; proposed theater; storefront theaters
  29. Wilmington's New Theater, Carolina, To Open October 1
    Wilmington Star - 7/19/1928
    Tags: admission price; alias; balcony; closing; manager; opening notice; renovation
  30. Wilmington to Have Talking Movies, Geo. Bailey Tells Public
    Wilmington Star - 12/2/1928
    Tags: company; manager; music; sound films
  31. Bijou Was First Motion Picture House in the State - It Has Progressed Rapidly and Is Now Showing Modern Pictures
    Wilmington Star - 12/8/1929
    Tags: admission price; film title; manager; notable; sound films; tent
  32. Royal Theatre Will Open Talkies About January 20 - George W. Bailey Signs Contract With Radio Corporation For Latest Equipment
    Wilmington Star - 12/22/1929
    Tags: manager; sound films
  33. Repairs Planned At Royal Theatre
    Wilmington News - 12/30/1931
    Tags: closing; film title; manager; renovation
  34. Changes Planned at Royal Theatre - Movie House Will Be Closed for Renovation and Repairs, January 3 to 18
    Wilmington Star - 12/31/1931
    Tags: closing; film title; manager; renovation
  35. Royal Theater Opens Door Monday Morning
    Wilmington News - 1/15/1932
    Tags: closing; film title; manager; renovation; re-opening
  36. Sulke Buys In Theatre Sites
    Wilmington News - 3/12/1933
    Tags: change in owner
  37. Four Theatre Sites Advertised For Sale
    Wilmington News - 4/13/1933
    Tags: closing
  38. Trustee To Sell Theater Sites
    Wilmington Star - 4/13/1933
    Tags: closing
  39. Royal's New Policy Goes Into Effect - Three Pictures A Week Instead of Two as Heretofore, Will Be Shown, Beginning This Week
    Wilmington Star - 7/10/1933
    Tags: film title; hours of operation; music; program change
  40. Howard & Wells Sue J.M. Sulke
    Wilmington Star - 8/2/1933
    Tags: company; licensing; manager; notable
  41. Royal - Ad - fashion show
    Wilmington Star - 2/22/1934
    Tags: fashion show; film title; hours of operation; music; newsreels
  42. Theatre Installs New Ventilation - Royal
    Wilmington Star - 4/24/1934
    Tags: fire; renovation; ventilation
  43. Royal - Ad - hours of operation
    Wilmington Star - 12/8/1935
    Tags: admission price; band or orchestra; film title; hours of operation; music
  44. Royal - Ad - boxing films, racial policy
    Wilmington Star - 7/15/1936
    Tags: admission price; boxing films; hours of operation; program change; racial policy
  45. J.F. Howard Continues Critically Ill In Hospital
    Wilmington News - 3/3/1938
    Tags: manager
  46. Howard Passes Crisis Is Believed Recovering
    Wilmington News - 3/4/1938
    Tags: manager
  47. Howard Funeral Tuesday Morning - company
    Wilmington News - 3/7/1938
    Tags: company; manager
  48. Theaters Closed In Honor of James Howard
    Wilmington News - 3/7/1938
    Tags: hours of operation; manager; notable
  49. James F. Howard Obituary
    Wilmington News - 3/8/1938
    Tags: manager
  50. Royal Theatre Is Being Remodeled
    Wilmington Star - 7/21/1938
    Tags: closing; renovation
  51. Royal to Reopen Monday Morning
    Wilmington Star - 7/29/1938
    Tags: renovation; re-opening
  52. Royal Theatre Reopened Today
    Wilmington News - 8/1/1938
    Tags: balcony; renovation; re-opening
  53. Royal Theatre
    Wilmington News - 8/31/1938
    Tags: advertisement; film title
  54. Royal and Bijou - Ad - midnight show
    Wilmington Star - 3/28/1939
    Tags: admission price; hours of operation; midnight shows; racial policy
  55. Colony is Closed - Theatre Began as the Victoria - No Plans For Old Structure
    Wilmington Star - 10/31/1974
    Tags: actualities; alias; architect; band or orchestra; closing; company; feature film; film title; hotel; manager; name change; renovation; re-opening; seating capacity; sound films; vaudeville
  56. The Colony Comes Down - Victoria - alias
    Wilmington Star - 4/24/1975
    Tags: alias; architect; company; feature film; film title; manager; name change; renovation; seating capacity; sound films; vaudeville