1963 Fire takes Salisbury’s West Side — Ritz, Blue Moon, The Spot, & more

A fire on Saturday afternoon, February 16, 1963, erupted at Lake and Main Streets, destroying a theater, a night club, and a five and ten cent store.  Salisbury fire fighters were assisted by firemen from Hebron, Parsonsburg, Delmar, and Fruitland; finally the fire was under control by 5 p.m. (Salisbury Times, February 18, 1963).

20140814_132027_editedThe newspaper described the fire.

“The building is owned by Mrs. Frank Parker of Isabella St. She leased the various businesses.

Polan’s Five and Ten sustained heavy damage from fire and water.  Fire Marshal Grier said some stock may be salvageable.

The second floor Blue Moon night club, operated by Mrs. Nellie Marshall, was destroyed as the roof on the building burned away.

The adjacent Ritz Theater, operated by E. Costen 20140814_133427_editCordery, was called a total loss by him.  He said the afternoon show had not started yet when the fire was discovred. It apparently started under the stairwell where a heating plant is located.

A men’s hair processing salon, operated by Charles Jones, was damaged as was The Spot, a small restaurant which was not open at the time.”

This all happened in what was then the black business district of downtown Salisbury.  The community lost the only movie theater African Americans could use freely; being relegated to the balconies of the white-owned and operated theaters in town.

The second photograph of the remains of the totaled buildings being torn down is from the February 23, 1963 edition of the Salisbury Times.

— Linda Duyer

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