Galax Theater

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Galax Theater in 1920. O. V. Hunt. Courtesy Birmingham Public Library
Galax Theater in 1939. W. B. Phillips. Courtesy Birmingham Public Library
Marquee of the Galax Theater in 1945

The Galax Theater was built prior to 1920 as a silent movie theater at 1919 2nd Avenue North. It was one of a string of cinemas that opened on that block, including the Strand, the Trianon and the Alcazar.

The cinema, under the proprietorship of Acme Theaters, converted to talkies soon after they were introduced in 1927. A new marquee was installed before 1939.

On October 20, 1940 the theater advertised a screening of the 1936 French film "Club de femmes" (retitled "French Girls Club") with claims that it was, "The Most Daring Picture Ever Filmed". At the direction of Commissioner of Public Safety Bull Connor, Police Chief T. A. Riley sent a subordinate named Kicker to view the film. Despite Kicker's report that, "the picture was all right," Riley determined that the film violated Section 5854 of the General Code and ordered manager W. H. Merritt to cancel the planned screening.

The following day, Merritt filed for an injunction from Circuit Court Judge John Denson seeking to enjoin the city from interfering with the screening of the film. Meanwhile Riley and assistant city attorney John Foster viewed the film later that day and, finding it obscene, reported to Connor that it violated the city's ordinance. Circuit judge E. M. Creel agreed to dissolve Denson's order. Merritt was arrested and the film print was seized as contraband. At Connor's order, the theater's business license was revoked and the doors were padlocked. Merritt's attorneys successfully argued that those measures exceeded the city's authority in enforcing its obscenity ordinance and in January 1941 Connor, Riley, Foster and city attorney J. H. Willis were found in contempt of court and jailed for 48 hours.

A fire damaged the theater in February 16, 1945. Acme undertook a full renovation, carried out by Ralph A. Stallman & Co. contractors. The theater reopened on November 16 with a screening of "Dillinger" starring Edmund Lowe and Anne Jeffreys.

The Galax Theater building was demolished in 1963 to make way for the BTNB building (1964).