The Palace Theatre is an excellent example of Art Deco with its
porthole glass paneled doors, upholstered interior walls, bucket lights, neon lighting and exceptional hand -painted murals. When the Palace
Theatre opened in 1942, it was hailed as one of the largest and most ornate
picture theatres between Norfolk and Philadelphia. The terrazzo floors, walnut paneling and ceiling to floor mirrors helped to complete its majesty.
The Palace was the embodiment of Cape Charles itself which at the time was a thriving community with tens of thousands of
travelers arriving by train and ferry. With more than three
hundred seats, the Palace lived up to its name as a spectacular
cornerstone of the small town on the Chesapeake Bay as it played some of the most celebrated motion pictures emerging from Hollywood.
With the opening of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel in 1964, Cape Charles was abandoned to its fate and withered from neglect and
disrepair along with its theatre. Efforts to restore the Palace began in
earnest with the incorporation in 1997 of Arts Enter, the non-profit fine and performing art center. Over $800,000 has been raised to restore this precious gem. New seats, restored murals,new carpet and running lights, upgraded heating/cooling, new lighting, purchase of a grand Steinway piano and renovated bathrooms are among the enhancements that helped return the theatre to its 1940s splendor. The year-round program presented by GEAR Fine and Performing Arts is enjoyed by patrons today.
The theatre was sold to Dr. John and Clelia C. Sheppard in mid 2018. With this new arrangement, the historic landmark will be sustained for generations to come as a venue for the arts and a cultural center for the community.