Motion pictures lit up walls here as early as 1898. Nickelodeons set up in storefronts, and eager audiences crammed into them to experience the flickering phenomenon.
The proliferation of picture-show houses raised concern among parents and crowd-control problems for police. Broad Street was lined with the miniature theaters, and they extended into Main. They went by names like Colonial, Lubin, Bijou, Dixie, Gaiety, Majestic and Theato.
In 1909 alone, 14 nickelodeons opened in Richmond, including the Idle Hour, Cozy Corner and Wonderland — this on Hull Street in Manchester. The Times-Dispatch described how waiting congregations outside the movie theaters required frustrated police officers to keep them in order as they tried to keep the sidewalks free for other pedestrians.