The Colonial Theatre Tea Garden

The beauty spot of downtown Richmond was, in 1921, the Tea Garden of the brand-new Colonial Theatre. Herein, we recreate the essence of elegance, joy and hauteur that was once found in Virginia's first real picture palace. Bathtub gin is available at the top of the grand ramps.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

A Bulletin Exclusive for Faithful COLONIAL Patrons!
The Management of the Colonial Theatre
--Richmond's Theatre Beautiful--
Thanks You for your many years of friendship and Patronage.
It is for YOU that we have created the most beautiful Theatre in the South, and for YOU that we have secured the most spectacular Pictures, the finest Artists, the most renowned Musicians.
YOU, the people of Richmond, have made our City great in both history and future.
The COLONIAL has been committed, since its opening day, to the greatness of
and her people.
We regret that the destruction of the theatre has resulted in a brief interruption of our normal programme. However, until further notice, the COLONIAL's usual superior productions will be presented through a consortium of the BYRD theatre, the PARKWAY theatre in Baltimore, and salon receptions at the Jackson Apartments.
Hey y'all.... Cinematour has some groovy new pics posted of the Loew's, the National, and the Empire. Sadly, no Colonial interiors. (The management is keeping those for itself.)


A few weeks past, I embarked upon a long and interesting road trip. No mere road trip, this: Alex, Anji and I set forth upon the Great America Race. This will make sense to anyone who has watched The Amazing Race on television. Otherwise, it will need explanation. Sadly, I am not willing to go into the complex world that is our vision of racing, so you're on your own. Well, almost. Go to and have a look for yourself. If you think you're up for the challenge, I'll post a code at the bottom of this entry. You'll need to know the name of my favorite song, which shouldn't be difficult for most of you; you've heard it over and over and over and over ad infinitum--or ad nauseam as the case may be.

Somewhere along the line, I'll get around to posting about Nashville. I'd never seen that lovely city before and it was a real treat to visit there for the first time. It was especially lovely to see Lee and Carolyn, my dear old friends from Richmond whom I'd not seen for seven years. I will also get around to posting about Atlanta, the one Southern city I'd always hated but to which I've now warmed considerably. And, perhaps, I'll devote several posts to beautiful Savannah--one of the very few cities which I have always considered socially acceptable, but the one that has always inexplicably taken a back seat in my mental Packard. (Anyone who can list my socially-acceptable cities wins either a big red velvet cake or mayonnaise server from the Marlborough.)

I would like, however, to dedicate this post to one of my favorite cities on earth--the Crescent City, the naughty Belle of the Delta. However you call her--Nouvelle-Orleans, New Orleans, Nawlins, Norleeins--she is the most charming and magical city I have ever had the pleasure to visit. And New Orleans IS a city of pleasure and happiness.

Which is why I was so horrified to see the city now.

Two years after the horrible hurricane that flooded and battered the city, things are still far from right, and yet the rest of the country has moved on. Evidently, destruction and heartbreak are only worthwhile as long as they sell newspapers (or television time). The United States is no longer interested in the plight of its most bewitchingly wonderful city because it no longer commands prime air time.

We came into the Big Easy via Interstate 10. The eastern suburbs of the city are levelled. In any other case, I would probably be happy to see the boarded-up Wal STAR Marts and Burger Tyrants. I know that I'd love to see the ugly, tacky malls ruined and shuttered, if they were anywhere else. But they weren't shuttered because everyone had come to their senses and went back downtown--they were shuttered because they, just like downtown, had been flooded and ruined. We drove past ugly '70s and '80s apartments that were abandoned, boarded and burned. Should be a victory for taste, right? But--no, they were a pitiful testimony to what had happened to the city.

As we drove further into New Orleans itself, I think that we all held a vague belief that the old city would not have suffered as badly as had its modern satellites. After all, the old cities were well built. I know that if a big storm hits Baltimore, my house will survive battered but intact when many newer structures might be swept away. Of course it was bad; we do read the papers. But could anything really wipe away this tough old town that had weathered both French and Spanish crowns, American takeover, English assault in 1815 , Yankee attack and occupation in 1865, and God alone knows how many previous hurricanes?

It didn't help, I suppose, that a nasty thunderstorm hit just as we were driving into the city proper. All of us in the car felt a jolt of terror in seeing the crashing sheets of rain, but they passed. As they did, we left the interstate and before we knew it, we were on Esplanade Avenue.

Which should make everything seem nice and normal. We were supposed to hook up with the rest of the racers on Dauphine street, but the route we took left us pointed in the wrong direction. We had to circle a bit. From the first glances, the Vieux Carre looks quite allright--but then, when we drove around on Rampart, we saw a hastily-painted sign, still nailed into a window:


All four of us had a small meltdown. I can't begin to imagine what went on the minds of the other three people in the car; I can speak only for myself. I thought wildly of that city I love so well, its wonderful people, the good times I've seen there. I thought of my family, my beloved cats. I thought of Richmond and Baltimore and then thought of them underwater. I wanted to go back two years and commandeer the entire Bay oyster fleet, James River barges, and the German Navy to help get people and animals to safety, and send thirty extra trains of the "Crescent" at full steam down to help.

But, like all good intentions, this is in hindsight. Since I had not the presence of mind, nor the wherewithal, to be in New Orleans two years ago, I can only rejoice in her resilience, and be very happy that the Hotel Monteleone hasn't changed one iota.