by John DeMajo



Lavish and luxurious is what the City of Richmond calls one of its most bizarre buildings, Richmond's Landmark Theater (formerly known as the Mosque). Construction began in February, 1926, and was completed two years later. It was formally opened on October 28, 1927 by ACCA Temple of the Mystic Shrine. In 1940, it was purchased by the city of Richmond. The building has an exotic flavour following the lines of many great Masonic halls built in the era, including Atlanta's fabulous Fox Theatre which also began life as a temple for Shriners. In the dome alone, there exists 75,000 square feet of gold leaf, and another 35,000 square feet of aluminum leaf. The Auditorium decorations include Saracenic decorations and five paintings bordering the proscenium arch of the stage. Ornamental tile used in the interior was imported for Spain, Italy and Tunis, along with lush carpets, silken curtains and paintings which suggest the rich tents and equipment of a Saracenic nobleman.

Besides the auditorium which seats nearly 5,000, the city acquired 24,300 square feet of office space, an 18,000 square foot ballroom and a 20 by 70 foot swimming pool in the 1940 acquisition of the facility..


Similar to the situation at the Byrd Theatre, in another area of downtown Richmond, a lake is also said to be under the Landmark Theater's foundation. In actuality, it is a natural spring on the site which affected the construction of the foundation and delayed the project. To allow the building to be constructed on the site, 963 reinforced concrete piles were driven down to bedrock, obeying the Biblical injunction that the temple should be constructed on bedrock.

Console of the 3 manual, 17 rank pipe organ (Opus 1757) (260SP) built by the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company in 1927. The pipe chambers, containing the organ's 1384 pipes, along with its 10 HP Spencer blower sound effects and percussion instruments, are located on the sixth floor of the building, and sound enters the auditorium through the grills shown in photos above.