Collection: James Whitlow
Source: Digital Camera
Swan / Sharum Theater
Newspaper accounts from 1923 reported that Swan C. Dowell, president of the Swan Theater Company of Walnut Ridge, had announced he was erecting a theater on Main Street with a seating capacity of 700 people.
The splendid theater, one of the finest at the time in Northeast Arkansas, opened the next year in 1924, and was named the Swan Theater in Mr Dowell’s honor.
Only seven years later, on January 12, 1931, a horrific fire completely gutted the interior, causing $30,000 damage to the building and $20,000 in the fixtures. The only thing salvageable after the blaze were two metal desks and a gas stove. According to newspaper accounts, all the “expensive talkie equipment” for the films were destroyed. The feature film played earlier that night, “Ladies of Leisure” was destroyed as well as a newsreel and a comedy film.
The building was rebuilt and served as T.J. White Furniture store during the 1930s, and was later restored to a movie theater by J.J. Sharum around 1940 and renamed the Sharum Theater. Closed in the early 1980s, it has remained empty and closed to the public since.
The current owner has rumored renovations many times, but nothing noteworthy has ever happened. James Whitlow took these pictures in late 2015 when workers were cleaning out the inside.
It is a pitiful reminder of its former glory days.