Built in 1908 as a vaudeville and high class motion picture house, The American Theatre originally featured an ornate facade and twin towers with mythical figures.
A.M. Johnson of Norfolk built The American Theatre to give the community of Phoebus a “clean, wholesome amusement theatre.” The American Theatre was the first integrated theatre in Southeastern Virginia, originally seating 600 patrons on two levels.
Of the four original theatres in Hampton, The American Theatre is the only one remaining and has been a community landmark for almost a century.
Several times during its colorful history, the theatre changed hands and was known variously as the Lee Theatre, the Lee Adult Theatre and the New American Theatre.
In 1997, the theatre was purchased by the Hampton Arts Foundation. After a $2.9 million renovation and expansion, the theatre reverted to its original name and reopened in June, 2000 with a a star-studded gala.
Today, The American Theatre presents more than 50 world class attractions and events each season and has earned a well-deserved reputation as a principal arts venue in the Hampton Roads area.