No town in the late 19th and early 20th century was complete without entertainment. It just wasn’t enough to swap tales at the barbershop or lodge meeting. Folks in the big city were enjoying a new popular culture called Vaudeville and the small towns followed suit within a few years.
The first talk of a theater venue was around 1880 or so when there was talk of a new “Opera House” to be built in Bentonville. Previously, plays and music were enjoyed in venues such as picnics or churches.
Throughout the year there would be programs. As on the night of February 3, 1888 when there was a band benefit concert by Alex Black's band, a local group with other short acts to fill in. Alex Black's cornet solo of the Lauterback Waltz and a violin solo, The Last Rose of Summer... were highlights of the program that played to a full house. On August 31, 1892, Richards and Pringle brought their famous minstrel show to town for a one-night stand. The Famous Georgias, as it was called, was the only "legitimate all-colored minstrel show in the country." (please - this language is directly from Mr. Black.)
The Royal Theater began outside prior to 1917. These theaters were popular during that time, as they were cooler than indoors. They were known as "airdomes" and Bentonville's became the “Royal Airdome.” They sold tickets at the Jackson Dry Goods store which was in the downstairs part of the building. The Jackson Grocery was located on West Central across from the vacant lot where the outdoor theater was located, next to the Plaza Theater. As noted, by 1922, the building in which had been occupied as the Opera House was opened as a movie theater.
The Royal was one of four movie theaters that the town had at one time or another. There was also the Cozy, which was in the spot where the Station Cafe is now. The Leukens Building which was later Black's Clothing Store was originally also a theater.
The Meteor, later the Plaza Theater was where the current Meteor Guitar Gallery is now on Central. It was built in 1927. It was the Plaza as most of the Bentonville natives alive today remember it. It was pretty run down by the 1960’s and closed in the mid 1970’s and was used as a beauty shop for several years until the guitar gallery took over the lease.
The Meteor, later the Plaza Theater was where the Meteor Guitar Gallery is now on Central. It was built in 1927. It was the Plaza when most of the Bentonville natives alive today remember it. It was pretty run down by the 1960’s and closed in the mid 1970’s and was used as a beauty shop for several years until the guitar gallery took over the lease.