MHT File Photo
Walnut Street (MD 19), Church Hill, Queen Annes County
Church Hill Theatre is a large stucco building constructed in 1929 by the Church Hill town government as a community hall, and was first used as a movie theatre in 1936. The present Art Deco entrance and interior features were installed after a fire in 1944. The building stands two stories high, resting on a rusticated block basement. The façade is three bays wide, and is brick on the first story. The central bay is defined by a wide arch holding a box office, flanked on either side by double doors and surmounted by a marquee. Small storefronts flank the central bay. The three bays of the stucco upper story are defined by paired 6/6 windows. The parapet holds a faded plaque reading "Community Building," and conceals the low-pitched gable roof. The building reflects Art Deco influence in the elements of its façade. The first floor is treated in brick to create the effect of pilasters separating the bays. A glass-block box office is flanked by sets of double doors with glazed semicircular cutouts. This treatment, however restrained, marks the only instance of Art Deco design in Queen Anne's County. Flanking the central entrance bay are two storefronts, each with a store window and a glazed door. The store windows have four large panes with a 12-pane transom above. On the left side the transom bore a sign reading "Town Office" The two side walls are similar to one another, with two exits flanking three windows on the first floor and three windows on the second story. The interior is actually on three levels, plus the stage and balcony. At grade is the box office and vestibule. Flanking it are the two storefronts, formerly used for town offices on the west and refreshments on the east. The theatre itself is a large space defined on the exterior by the two stories of windows. There is a corridor across the back to the exits and two aisles flanking the central tier of seats. The walls of the theatre are finished with heavy Art Deco fabric above the dado. The ceiling is on three levels, with the center and outer edges covered in acoustical tile and the center strip painted. Where these levels change is a painted trompe l'oeil motif. The wall lights are half cylinders hung horizontally. The ends of the seats have an Art Deco motif.
The Church Hill Theatre is significant for its architectural character. The façade and the interior feature restrained Art Deco treatments, representing the only instance of the style in largely-rural Queen Anne's County. The building derives additional significance as the center of community life and recreation. It was constructed by the town in 1929 as a community building, and served as the venue for a wide variety of community events including suppers, graduations, etc. It was first used as a movie theatre in 1936, and continued to serve that purpose until 1982. It remains the only existing movie theatre of the period in Queen Anne's County, the Centreville theatre having burned in the early 1960s.