About Quizzes

Morton Theatre

Built in 1910 by Monroe Bowers Morton, the Morton Theatre is one of the few establishments serving its original purpose and one of the only four vaudeville theaters that still exist in the nation. The theatre is located at the intersection of Washington and Hull streets, in Athens, Georgia, and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The theater was opened with a concert by pianist Alice Carter Simmons in May 1910. It was then the first vaudeville theater in the nation that was owned and operated by an African American. Following that first concert, a bevy of jazz and blues greats such as Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, the Hall Johnson Chorale, and Duke Ellington performed here. The theater is housed within a historic four-story brick building, which once served as a center for Athens’ black community. During the first half of the 20th century, black professionals such as doctors, pharmacists, and jewelers practiced in the building. In 1930s, Morton’s son, Charlie converted the theater into a movie house and it remained an important meeting hall for the African-American community, until a fire destroyed the projection room of the theater in the 1950s. In 1973, the Morton family sold the building and later, the Morton Theatre Corporation purchased it. In 1994, the theatre was officially reopened as a community performing arts center, under the new ownership of Athens-Clarke County government. Presently, the theatre is a fine example of Beaux-style architecture in the region and is noted for its symmetrical facade featuring a central false pediment bearing the name “Morton Building.” The ground floor includes six commercial store bays and a truncated corner entrance with an exposed column. In addition, the corner of the building is graced with brick pilasters. The main auditorium occupies the second and third floors and boasts a balcony forming a full horseshoe with tiered risers and pagoda-style boxes. Brick segmental arches with marble keystones, an entablature elaborated with dentils, and the alternating use of red and yellow bricks, are other attractive features.