History of Arts Enter and the Historic Palace Theater

Arts Enter was incorporated in 1997 as a not-for-profit organization. It is governed by a Board of Directors who represent cultural, educational and business diversities of the community.

We began our arts and music education programs in a classroom in the old Cape Charles High School that was offered by the Town of Cape Charles, and a temporary dance studio was created, courtesy of Chesapeake Properties on Mason Avenue. Fifty dance students enrolled during the first year. Our first two productions, Magia and Benjamin’s Grotto, were original productions and were performed at the Palace Theatre through a rental agreement with the owners, the Savage family.

In 1998, Arts Enter was offered the option to buy the Art Deco style Historic Palace Theatre, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by a German architect, Alfred M. Lublin and was built in 1941 as a movie house.  In its day, the Palace Theatre was considered one of the finest theatres on the east coast and held 380 orchestra level seats as well as fifty balcony seats. At this time, Cape Charles was a prosperous railroad town. The terrazzo floors, walnut paneling, and foyer mirrors give way to the entrance of this vintage treasure, a most exclusive and elegant appeal.

The Palace Theatre is the only existing Historic Theatre on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The most distinguishing feature of this structure is the artwork gracing the walls: two hand-painted murals that represent the essence of the Art Deco Period. The murals are 7’ x 30’ and were commissioned works of a New York artist.

On July 7, 1998 Arts Enter became the new owners of the theatre, which opened the possibility to centralize both the Visual and Performing Arts under one roof. This center for the arts is now a hive of culture, entertainment and instruction.  The addition of the Stage Door Gallery in XXXXX  further expanded the horizons of this artistic panorama. Both tourists and community members are provided another opportunity to admire the charm of an old Art Deco treasure and to find quality entertainment in Cape Charles.

Performances at the historic Palace Theatre offer a wide range of artistic talent; over the years the most notable being the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Opera, Virginia Musical Theatre, Bay Youth Orchestra, Virginia Children’s Chorus, as well as several in-house original productions. Arts Enter has exciting programs planned for the Palace Theatre each season along with an impressive list of class activities in dance, painting, pottery, music and drama.Our attendance record for performances and youth workshops has continued to grow over the years and now tops over 8,600 attendees for performances and over 3,500 participants in youth programs each year.

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