Three Historic Theatres Enjoy Encores as Cultural and Social Hubs

Three Historic Theatres Enjoy Encores as Cultural and Social Hubs
By Emily Kirby

The flashing neon lights, the period-rich decor, and the drama of the stage have for years drawn DeKalb County residents and visitors alike to the seats of our historic theaters, providing enrichment, self-expression, and cultural depth to their communities.  

DeKalb Theatre in Fort Payne, Alabama
DeSoto State Park CCC reserved shelter2 - courtesy DSP
Historic Cricket Theatre in Collinsville, AL
Historic Cricket Theatre
Fort Payne Opera House
Historic Fort Payne Opera House

This month we recognize World Theatre Day, celebrated each year on March 27. Created by the International Theatre Institute in 1961, this special day celebrates the essence, beauty, and importance of theater arts in communities. Here in DeKalb County, three magical sites have brought joy and splendor to our region for decades. Each is admired for its historical value while functioning as an exciting modern-day entertainment destination. 

  1. DeKalb Theatre

DeKalb Theatre in downtown Fort Payne’s Historic Main Street District opened nearly 90 years ago with the screening of “Naughty Marietta” on July 1, 1935. The theater offered films throughout the decades, eventually being restored as a multipurpose venue. With movable seating for 375 guests, the space below the stage is often used for dances, shows, and banquets. In recent years, DeKalb Theatre has housed local stage productions, public concerts, numerous tribute shows, and most recently Boys in the Band – the ALABAMA Tribute.

  1. Cricket Theatre

The Cricket Theatre opened for its first show in 1925 in the building that now holds the Collinsville Public Library. It moved to its current location in 1946, where it was equipped to seat 800. The theater closed in 1964 and sat dormant until 2010, when it was purchased and revitalized by the Collinsville Historical Association. Now, with the revival of The Cricket, an ongoing project, the city and the community hold periodic town meetings, live musical performances, and guest speaking engagements in its vast auditorium.

  1. Fort Payne Opera House

The Fort Payne Opera House, built during the town’s industrial boom in 1889, is the oldest one in Alabama still in use today. Having opened in 1890 and serving as a theater and opera house, it was later converted to host movies during the silent film era. The doors closed in 1935. Fortunately, Landmarks of DeKalb County Inc. purchased the venue, restored it, and reopened it to the public in 1970. Today, the historical group opens the space for public forums, traveling troupes, local plays, live music, yoga classes, seasonal events, and more. Most recently, the DeKalb County Fine Arts Theatre sold out its performance of “The Little Mermaid.” Its stately facade and location in the heart of downtown provide a window into the past, but inside the arts continue to thrive in a very vibrant present.

Take some time to consider what “the stage” has brought to your life – was it a new love for watching live drama or listening to local music? Or the confidence you gained when you yourself got up in front of the crowd? 

Find ways to support local arts in your community through our theaters or the organizations that keep them going. If you’re interested in supporting these local, community theatres or to keep up with upcoming events, visit these websites:

DeKalb Theatre:

Fort Payne Opera House:

Cricket Theatre: