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Queen Theater (Clayton House Hotel)

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Clayton House Hotel
1871–1873, Thomas Dixon and Charles L. Carson. 1915–1916, with later changes. 5th and Market sts.

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.”

Writing Credits

Author: 
W. Barksdale Maynard
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Citation

W. Barksdale Maynard, "Queen Theater (Clayton House Hotel)", [Wilmington, Delaware], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/DE-01-WL15.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Delaware

Buildings of Delaware, W. Barksdale Maynard. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008, 97-97.

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