Opened in 1934, Ashby Street Theatre was one of Atlanta’s first theaters to serve the African American community as part of the Bailey Theater chain. The theater was built by an all-African American construction crew, providing those workers important employment in the midst of the Great Depression. In the Jim Crow era, Ashby Street Theatre provided a space for African Americans to enjoy the latest movies in their own community without having to suffer segregated entrances and seating areas. The theater served as an anchor for the surrounding neighborhoods throughout the 1940s, 50s and 60s.
The Ashby Street Theatre has not been occupied for many years and suffers from a lack of maintenance. The original theater marquee remains intact behind plywood boards which are showing signs of wear and weathering. While the building is boarded up, the interior suffers from water damage. People experiencing homelessness have attempted to occupy the building, causing further threat and damage. Despite its continued disrepair, there is now significant development occurring all around the Ashby Street Theatre, creating an opportunity for its revitalization as a community gathering spot once again.
Images by MotorSportMedia | Halston Pitman & Nick Woolever or courtesy of Dr. R. Candy Tate