The circa 1940 theatre started out as the Avon according to Amy Chatham of Friends of Von Theatre (Henry Bailey, “Hernando chasing funds for skate park, will chill at Front Porch Jubilee,” Commercial Appeal, March 10, 2014).
…the ‘A’ went out and the owner just painted over it and so it became known at the ‘Von.
Chatham said that Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis both played the Von in their early years of performing. The group is raising funds for the preservation of the theatre, and efforts have been under way since 2009 to renovate the former theatre, currently in use as a gift shop. The building was repainted, as a photograph of the building in 20110 reveals a yellowish colored building that was in disrepair (Robert Lee Long, “Old Von Theater getting facelift,” January 22, 2010.)
W. H. Carver erected the “300-seat picture show building” after purchased the theater building in 1940 from Earl Mosby (Brian Hicks, DeSoto County Museum, quoted in Robert Lee Long’s “Stories of old theater could aid restoration,” July 28, 2009, DeSoto Times-Tribune). Hicks clarified that the ‘A’ never worked, because Carver bought the neon sign from a junkyard in Memphis. It had formerly been the sign for a tourist court, and Carver painted over tourist court and added “theater.” Seating was increased to 500 and a wider screen added to accommodate the growing crowds over the years.
The theatre was owned by Eddie Bond from the late 1950-60s, and he renamed it the Bon. Bond was known as a rockabilly singer and had a hit with the single “I got a woman.” He played with both Presley and Lewis before they became famous, or as Bond put it, “got big.”
Categories: Hernando, Historic Preservation, Theaters
WOW at the info on this post! This is a very wonderful building full of Mississippi History. Can’t wait to go see it. Thanks for all the fun things to know about its name and who was there.
The 2007 Google street-view shows the building looking quite rough and suffering from remuddlings.
Great to to see this building get some love.
Cool building, definitely from the square school of architecture. Notice that the symmetry is not total: on the 2nd floor, one small window is alone and does not have a match on the left side.