Even if these people are negroes ….

Five years before he was assaulting black teachers, school superintendent Charles L. Coon was writing letters to the editor complaining about vice and depravity incubating in an East Wilson theatre. In the paternalistic and unself-conciously racist language typical of the time, he limned the dangers the show place posed to “young negro school girls” and warned that even small children were carrying to school “suggestive songs” heard at the theatre.

CL Coon Vice letter 8 2 1913

Wilson Daily Times, 11 April 1913.

The Sanborn Company issued a new volume of fire insurance maps for Wilson in 1913, but no movie theatre or vaudeville hall is depicted along East Nash Street. However, check the previous volume, produced in 1908, and there it is — a “moving picture show” just across the tracks at the corner of Nash and South Railroad Street. (In 1913, this building is [mis?]marked as a restaurant.) This theatre, at 414 East Nash, predates Sam Vick‘s Globe Theatre, which at any rate was located in the next block. Who was its proprietor? What was its name?

Moving picture show

Sanborn map, Wilson, North Carolina, 1908.

[A personal aside: seventy years later, school girls were flocking to another spot in the 400 block of East Nash. In the mid to late 1970s, Midtown Lounge, located roughly where the restaurant and cobbler shop are shown above, lured in patrons in the very best smoke-and-mirror balls disco way. On Teen Night, I was one of them. — LYH]


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