Photo credit: MHT File Photo , Undated Photo

Property Name: Mar-Va Theater
Date Listed: 3/21/1996
Inventory No.: WO-363
Location: 103, Market Street (MD 675), Pocomoke City, Worcester County

Description: The Mar-Va Theater is a two-story, three-bay building constructed in 1927 of brick laid in stretcher bond. The principal (west) facade is basically symmetrical, and reflects classical influence in recessed panels defined by narrow rusticated brick pilasters, a dentiled brick cornice, and parapet. The four-door front entrance is topped by a metal marquee hung by linked chains fastened to the wall. On each side of the front entrance are small shopfronts, and separate entrance formerly used by black patrons is located at the north end of the facade. The second floor is characterized by paired 9/1 sash windows in each of the end bays, and a tripartite window in the center bay composed of a 9/1 sash window flanked by narrow 6/1 sash windows. The top of the facade features a dentiled brick cornice running below a stepped parapet wall, which is highlighted by a light colored brick panel. The parapet has a flat masonry cap. The north and south sides of the theater, laid in seven-course common bond, are largely covered by the adjacent commercial structures. The tops of the parapet walls, capped with terra cotta tiles, descend slightly in graduated steps. The back end of the structure, as is typical of theater buildings, rises an additional story for the hanging storage of stage sets and curtains. The interior reflects an extensive redecoration carried out in 1937 in the Art Deco style. The stage is flanked by narrow silver columns and Art Deco embellishments enhance the side walls. A coffered pressed metal ceiling remains in place along with metal and wooden folding seats. Under the stage are dressing rooms formerly used by stage performers.

Significance: The Mar-Va Theater is significant as an example of an early-20th century theater building, the only example of this resource type surviving intact in Worcester County. Its conservative, functional brick exterior is typical of commercial architecture of the period in the Eastern Shore region; its Art Deco interior, the result of a 1937 remodeling, reflects then-current national fashion in theater decor, and speaks of the management's desire to present an up-to-date, "metropolitan" image. The building retains character-defining plan features associated with its function, including ticket booth, vestibule and concession area, auditorium, stage, and dressing rooms; in addition, a separate entrance, lavatory, vending machine, and balcony seating area were provided for black patrons during the era of racially segregated accommodations.




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