You are here
Queen Theater (Clayton House Hotel)
The Indian Queen Hotel that once stood here was Wilmington's finest from the coming of statehood until 1871. The present structure, originally with a fashionable mansard roof, was built by the Baltimore architects (partners in 1871–1880) who also designed the Grand Opera House (WL24). Carpentry, brick-work, plastering, painting, and stonework were done by local firms; the ironwork by a Baltimore company; the slate roof by Philadelphians. It opened as the 105-bedroom Clayton House and promised to lure visitors away from the best hotels of Philadelphia. Newspapers described its sumptuous fittings, and toasts at the opening banquet hailed Wilmington's newfound stature and predicted a population of 100,000 in the city by 1900. The coming of the Hotel du Pont (WL32) and the shift of lower Market Street toward grocery trades eventually killed the Clayton House, however, and military bandages were rolled in the grand dining room in 1914–1915. Thereafter, the interior was gutted, and the building reopened in 1916 as the 2,000-seat Queen movie theater. The cream-colored terra-cotta facade dates to this campaign. Inside, lobby walls were of rare Alaska marble. The theater was remodeled in 1942 (with further alterations to the facade) and closed in 1957, the start of a half-century of near-abandonment. Redevelopment plans were announced in 2004 with talk of “partial demolition.”
If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.
SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.