Visit Clifton Forge, VA an Alleghany Highlands treasure and celebrate with the Historic Masonic Theatre & Amphitheatre.
The Historic Masonic Theatre is an architectural treasure. Designed by the Lynchburg firm of Frye and Chesterman, and commissioned by Low Moor Masonic Lodge 166 (1905), the Theatre opened in September 1906. A three-story Beaux-Arts brick building, with an additional underground level, a pilastered facade, cove ceiling lobby and original performance hall with stage, enriched proscenium and balcony, the historic theatre has been transformed into a performing art, entertainment, education, and community facility.
Once known as The Mason Hall and Opera House, the building was constructed in 1905 and throughout its history hosted political speakers, William Jennings Bryan in 1908, western movie icons like Lash LaRue, Tex Ritter who performed on stage with his horse, White Flash, and Cowboy Bob Steele. Masonic Lodge 166 conducted its meetings in the third-floor ballroom. In addition to meetings and shows, the Theatre hosted silent movies; and later, talkies, vaudeville, newsreels, classic movies and film, and stage stars.
Message from the Theatre:
Survival at The Historic Masonic Theatre
The cornerstone for the Historic Masonic Theatre was laid by Masonic Lodge 166 on July 4, 1905. Because it is the Theatre’s birthday and because this Theatre has withstood many challenges in its storied past, we wanted to share with you an article written by Will Price for The Daily Review in the 1980’s.
“There must be something about theatres that is very fragile. Surely there must have been plenty of them down in the cities along the coast long before Clifton Forge was even a hamlet called Williamson in the 1837, but equally surely they must have gone out of business, so in a sense the mountains won by default. In another sense, however, the Masonic Theatre has unquestionably earned its title the hard way.
When it was young, it was one of the six theatres-yes, SIX-theatres in Clifton Forge, and it outlasted them all. When it was young it was the Masonic Opera House, so named because it was built by the Masons (partly as a meeting place). It was a grand and ambitious project, which also probably contributes to its longevity; it came into the world as a three story opera house!
So we are dealing with royalty, not just some fly-by-night jerry-built fire-trap thrown up to make a fast buck on dancing bears and third rate magicians, but a queen of theatres designed for performances in the grand style. Surely this has to be a good part of the reason for its staying afloat while the other five went down.”
Our “Heart of the Community” Theatre reopened for business in June with our Summer Music Series and our Movies at the Masonic Sunday Matinee Series. We are thankful for our supporters, our volunteers, and our staff and we hope to survive for at least another 116 years with the help of our community. Happy Birthday, Historic Masonic Theatre!
This Week at The Historic Masonic Theatre and Masonic Amphitheatre!
Friday, July 9, 7:30 pm at the Masonic Amphitheatre, The Walkaways!
The Walkaways are a metropolitan DC-based band, making original music since 2006. The band released its third full-length album entitled “After the Fall” in 2017. This follows Fifty Left to Burn (2008) and Romance and Medicine (2012), the latter recorded and co-produced with Grammy-nominated producer John Jennings (Mary Chapin Carpenter, Indigo Girls, The Rankin Family, Iris Dement).
From the beginning The Walkaways’ sound has been called “alt-country” (Washington Post, Washington City Paper, Washingtonian Magazine), and that description still fits pretty well. Their songs draw even more broadly, however, from Americana, folk, roots rock, country, indie, and classic rock. Key influences include Ryan Adams, Son Volt, Wilco, Springsteen, Uncle Tupelo, Josh Ritter, The Band, and Old 97s.
Sunday, July 11, 3:00 pm Matinee, The Historic Masonic Theatre Auditorium, Remember the Titans!
In Virginia, high school football is a way of life, an institution revered, each game celebrated more lavishly than Christmas, each playoff distinguished more grandly than any national holiday. And with such recognition, comes powerful emotions. In 1971 high school football was everything to the people of Alexandria. But when the local school board was forced to integrate an all black school with an all white school, the very foundation of football’s great tradition was put to the test.