Another nominee for the 101 Mississippi places was the New Roxy theater on Issaquena Street, Clarksdale. Sadly, the New Roxy fared even less well than the Greyhound station, earning a mere 2 votes or .56% of the Delta poll. The theater might not be much to look at these days, but it has a cool history. Located on what became known as the “New World District” in Clarksdale, the New Roxy was in the section of town “on the other side of the tracks.”
Like many businesses in the south during the 40s and 50s, it was a white-owned business that catered to blacks, who comprised the area in this end of Issaquena and further away from the downtown district. A. N. Rossie and his wife, Saddie, owned the original Roxy in the 1940s.
The New Roxy was built as an expansion of the original Roxy in 1950, against the south wall, and both theaters operated at the same time. The original Roxy burned in 1973, and the New Roxy sat vacant most of the rest of the century. The theater was closed when the ceiling collapsed. The building was purchased by Robin Colonas in 2008, who has been steadily working toward making the space part of the cultural scene in Clarksdale. Her vision:
…a full restoration…
…keep the building from further deterioration…
Colonas provides the above information, and much more detail, on her website, along with some cool pictures of the interior during clean up. For those of you looking to do a little volunteer work, she has a wish list of help needed.
It may not have made the 101 list, but it’s worthy of a stop next time you are in Clarksdale. If nothing else, you can stand in front and channel Sam Cooke and Ike Turner if you have a mind to feel their vibes.