Located in the historic district of Tappahannock on Prince Street, The DAW Theatre originally opened in February 1939 (its opening film was “Kentucky”) and was named for its owners E.M. Doar, H.S. Atkinson, and R.B. Wallace. During the height of its popularity, the 500-seat Art Deco style theatre drew audiences from all across the Tidewater.
Programming in a small-town theatre is always difficult, but The DAW Theatre went out of its way to not only bring the best films as soon after their release as possible, but also worked to include a variety of live performances as well as a good number of “community service” engagements (fashion shows, eye screenings, chest x-rays and women’s club meetings).
Stage Shows and Vaudeville dominated in the 1940s.
On August 27, 1949, The DAW was nearly gutted by fire, believed to have been started by someone smoking during a radio performance on stage. The theatre was quickly restored and reopened to the public less than three months later, on November 16, 1949.
Air conditioning was added in the 1950s and that became, for years, an added benefit of seeing shows at The DAW – in cool comfort. Even the newspaper advertisements showcased it!
In the 1970s, The DAW was chosen as the first small-town theatre in Virginia to show the “Godfather” and “Jaws.”
In 1982, The DAW was completely renovated and served as the community’s movie theatre until the doors were shut permanently in the late 1990s following the showing of “Titanic.”
The building was gutted in anticipation of a full renovation, but efforts stalled and The DAW has remained a hollow shell of steel and concrete...until now!
Current exterior condition