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Durkee Enterprises theatre ephemera collection

Identifier: DURK


Ephemera from one of the oldest and largest Baltimore movie circuits, Durkee Enterprises. The collection is mostly made up of programs, but also includes brochures, newspapers, and magazines from 1922-1965.


  • 1922-1965


Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Historical Note

Durkee Enterprises was one of the oldest and largest movie circuits in Baltimore, Maryland. Frank H. Durkee began his movie empire as a young man around 1908-1909 when he went from hall to hall carrying his movie equipment strapped to his back. Durkee was born in Baltimore on 20 August 1888, and died on 24 October 1955. He graduated from Baltimore City College in 1906, and attended the University of Maryland Law School. In his youth, he sang between movies and in church choirs. He was president of the Baltimore City Park Board from 1938 to 1945.

Durkee's first movie house was the Paradise in a two-story house on the corner of Washington and Federal Streets. In his early theater ventures he used to take tickets and sing behind the screen. After the show, he would greet the customers as they left the theater. One evening, so the story goes, as he was greeting patrons, a woman came up to him. "Good evening, ' Mrs. So-and-So. Did you enjoy the movie?" he asked. "Oh, yes, Mr. Durkee. The movie was wonderful, but you ought to do something about that terrible singer." "Indeed I will. I'll fire him tonight," Durkee replied.

In about 1916, Charles E. Nolte (21), who operated the Linwood, C. W. Pacy, who operated the Garden on South Charles Street, and Frank Durkee became partners. By 1921 they had added the Elektra, Plaza, Aladdin, Palace (on Gay Street), Colonial, Patterson, Grand, and Belvidere to the list of theaters that they controlled. By 1926, they also controlled the Belnord, Boulevard, Community, Schanze, and Forest. In less than five years they built or acquired the Arcade, State, Edgewood, Red Wing, Baltimore, Fulton, and McHenry. They built the Ambassador in 1935.

By 1945 they controlled at least the following 17 movie houses in Baltimore: Ambassador, Arcade, Avon, Belnord, Boulevard, Edgewood, Forest, Fulton, Grand, Gwynn, Linwood, Northway, Patterson, Red Wing, Senator, State, and Waverly. In 1966 they built their twentieth house, the Liberty I which was joined by the Liberty II in 1971. For many years, Durkee Enterprises had its offices in the Arcade Building on Harford Road. Unlike some other large circuits, the Durkee organization owned most of its houses.


6 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials



Items are arranged alphabetically by theatre name. Box W76 also contains theatrical publications arranged by title.

Scope and Contents

The collection comprises 6 boxes of material, mainly programs, published by Durkee Enterprises. The programs are weekly publications with information about theatre showtimes and features, along with images of leading stars of the advertised films. The collection also contains several brochures from new theatre openings, as well as some miscellaneous material including newspapers and magazines.


Guide to the Durkee Enterprises theatre ephemera collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Revision Statements

  • 2019-12-13: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Emily Somach.

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States