Establishing a history of theaters in this district, the Braswell Theater introduced its ornate interior toDemopolis on October 23, 1902, with a performance ofthe melodrama Unorna. Built by Frederick Henry Braswell in galleries above his hardware store on Strawberry Avenue, the theater provided a local stage for operas, plays and minstrel shows into the 1920s. A popular silent screen star from Alabama, Henry B. Walthall, appeared live in the drama Taken In at the Braswell on April 15, 1921. The Elks Theater, the city's first "picture show," opened October 1, 1915, in the building with a front palladium window constructed by John Cox Webb, Jr., on the corner of Strawberry and Washington Streets. Braswell Theater partners Harry Simon and Tom Nonnenmacher acquired the Elks and gave it a new name, the Si-Non, for a February 1, 1916, opening.
The Si-Non Theater featured silent motion picturesand personal appearance by celebrities until 1929when it began a regular schedule of "talkies,"Famous boxer Jack Dempsey and escape artist HarryHoudini appeared at the Si-Non. After a managementchange in January, 1931, the Si-Non operatedas the Lido Theater for its final four years. OnSeptember 14, 1935, the Marengo Theater at the intersection of Washington and Cedar celebrated its grand opening as the city's exclusive showplacefor movies. A capacity crowd enjoyed the pictureTwo for Tonight, but a phone call from Hollywood star Jean Harlow to Mayor N.C. Floyd proved to be the evening's highlight. Originally operated byan Atlanta company, the Marengo was subsequentlypurchased in 1940 by Henry W. Webb, its firstlocal owner.