Such a cool old building with a unique history.
MacArthur Avenue, in Northside’s Bellevue neighborhood, has become something of a destination for eating out with a number of intimate fine dining options joining a popular comfort food destination, Dot’s Back Inn, and the Stir Crazy coffee house. But the landmark on the street, albeit disfigured, is the art deco Samis Grotto Temple, a men’s Masonic lodge. The building was originally the Bellevue Theater, a so-called neighborhood theater that showed films some weeks after their first run at the larger and often flashier downtown movie palaces.
The 651-seat Bellevue was opened in 1937 to serve the Bellevue, Laburnum and Ginter Park areas by locally-owned Neighborhood Theaters Inc. (a subsidiary of the Morton G. Thalhimer real estate company). The complete, if understated art deco façade in red brick and sandstone, is a study in stripped-down classicism: The order is Ionic, there is a podium (or base) and an engaged temple front that rises through the attic level to reach the rooftop.
I’ve always been fascinated by the Grotto and my online prowling has found these additional bits.
Image: Top – Architecture Richmond Bottom – Unknown