That Mall is sick and that Store is dead!

July 8, 2007

NEI Cinemas (Hampton, VA closed mid 1990’s)

Filed under: dead stores — Anita @ 7:53 pm

Wow, I’ve totally been forgetting to post this.

NEI Cinemas (Hampton, VA closed mid 1990's)

I took this way back in March of 2003. I’ve forgotten how many times mom took me to this place growing up. I think this place shut down in the mid 1990’s.

Is this a theater again? This is in the (now bordering on dilapidated) Riverdale Shopping Center in Hampton, VA.

Here is the Cinema Treasures page on the mall, also with a cool picture of the mall from the 70’s. I think that old sign was still on the theater when I was a little kid in the early 1990’s.



  1. Thanks a bunch for the Riverdale picture. IIRC, I saw Escape From the Planet of the Apes at that theatre. I was never a big Spielberg fan, but I can recall lines of people outside the Riverdale waiting to see Jaws (birth of the summer blockbuster movie).

    Thanks also for the Cinema Treasure link. What a cool, cool site. Aside from the 70’s pic of the Riverdale (yes, very cool–and for us ancient folk, deja vu all over again), there are entries on old downtown Newport News theatres like the Paramount. Also the Plantation Drive In (sorry to say, no pics) on 460 outside of Suffolk.

    Being an out-of-towner for decades now, I can’t connect the dots as to when the Riverdale has been open and under whose management. But it must’ve been taken over, renovated, reopened for awhile after ’03. I took some pictures of the same theatre this May and it was closed but had different signage/altered color scheme. Will post pics myself or gladly email them over for Sickmalls.

    Thanks again.

    Comment by Kevin Seward — July 11, 2007 @ 9:48 am | Reply

  2. “NEI” was the moniker used by Neighborhood Theatres. They were based in Richmond and in Richmond, ran just about all of the theatres to speak of; Colonial, State, National (Towne), Capitol, Byrd, Westover, Willow Lawn, Westhampton and Ridge, plus a couple of drive-ins.

    All of them are gone (as movie theatres) except for the Byrd (now an independent) and Westhampton (now a Regal theatre). Neighborhood Theatres had some ownership by the Thalhimer family.

    Comment by Dave McGrann — July 12, 2007 @ 7:12 pm | Reply

  3. The Cinema Treasures entry on the Byrd Theatre in Richmond is pretty informative:

    If you go there, skip down to Lee Wampler/ZedLee’s comment about the grandfather who was house organist at the Byrd.

    I made my own lame entry to the CT site about the Newmarket Cinemas (behind the old Newmarket shopping center/Newmarket Square on 79th St, Newport News). Please feel free to add your own considerably more informed comments:

    Comment by Kevin Seward — July 12, 2007 @ 9:02 pm | Reply

  4. My mom worked in that theater, at the round buildings in the 1970’s up to 1982, 1983 when her and dad had to move to Maine for a year.

    This is the only shot we have of it at the moment:

    My mom isn’t in the photo.

    Comment by Anita — July 12, 2007 @ 9:14 pm | Reply

  5. I remember that entry (now that you remind me). Please comment/send yr blog link to the Newmarket CT page if you have time for such things.

    Look under “Movie Cinemas” near the bottom of this page and you’ll think “Rip Van Webmaster?”:

    You’ll find listed: one of the Coliseum theaters (not sure which–the pulverized mall one or the one replaced by a Hooters), the Riverdale and both Newmarkets.

    Comment by Kevin Seward — July 13, 2007 @ 9:19 am | Reply

  6. Actually, the Hooters was originally a closed down dumpy gas station. The Coliseum theater across the street from the mall was a “convention area” for a while and last time I passed by there it looks like the Clarion has added it to their property.

    Comment by Anita — July 13, 2007 @ 10:08 am | Reply

  7. Thought my geography was a little hazy–thanks for the correction.

    There’s another cinema site, CinemaTour. You can see the Hampton entries here:

    There’s a pic there of the non-mall Coliseum theater as the Coliseum 4 Theatres (which, er, sounds right). An entry with pic for the Riverdale under “NEI Cinemas” and a photo-less entry 2nd entry for Riverdale. Some oddities include Newmarket Cinemas (where Anita’s mom worked, behind the shopping center) listed as a Hampton theater and an entry bearing a Newmarket North/N. Fair exterior pic for “Hampton Mall 4”. (I’d really like to see some pictures of the Newmarket North cineplex back in the day.)

    Still, some cool entries overall. The one for Byrd in Richmond has 64 pictures listed. Another for the (Mosque, er, um) Landmark. Here, more small town and sururban theaters are mentioned, if nothing more.

    Comment by Kevin Seward — July 13, 2007 @ 7:39 pm | Reply

  8. Some oddities include Newmarket Cinemas (where Anita’s mom worked, behind the shopping center) listed as a Hampton theater and an entry bearing a Newmarket North/N. Fair exterior pic for “Hampton Mall 4″. (I’d really like to see some pictures of the Newmarket North cineplex back in the day.)

    Yeah, there was a movie theater in Newmarket Fair. It closed in the mid 1990’s. It was right at the entrance where only NetCenter employees can enter now. Last movie we saw there was Home Alone II: Lost In New York back in January of 1993.

    The more and more I look at that picture though, I swear they took a photo of Miller & Rhoads instead.

    I don’t have any clear memories of the movie theater in Coliseum Mall, I’m starting to think that it closed before the big renovation in 1990. Perhaps the movie theater was where the food court was? I think we went there to see the My Little Pony movie there.

    As an aisde, I think that Regal Cinema that (sorta) replaced the movie theater that originated this entry shut down for a short while in 2005. I think its now a Cinema Cafe.


    Oh sweet, (what I called it because I started to shop at Patrick Henry after the theater was closed) the “Patrick Henry Mall Sign”, the only pic I have is of it covered up during the renovations two years ago:

    Comment by Anita — July 13, 2007 @ 7:58 pm | Reply

  9. At the Coliseum Mall theater, I think I saw at least 2 movies (M Python and the Holy Grail, The Bad News Bears) and a double feature (The In-Laws/The Prisoner of Zelda).

    But I can’t for the life of me remember the theater or where in the mall it was. Typical hazy recall, I’m afraid. I keep thinking near Penney’s, not too far from a rear facing (southwest, I guess, toward I-64) mall entrance. Might jibe with your food court theory.

    I was thankful to find that picture in CinemaTour of the Coliseum 4 (non-mall) theater as my memory really needed jogging three decades later.

    The Newmarket North (later, Fair) mall cinema I remember much better. There was a Friendly’s restaurant across from it (at least for a while in the ’70s). I was a bit of a mall rat there for a time: driving my mom over on a learner’s permit, hanging out while she took classes at the Rouse Tower. I wasn’t good enough at Asteroids or Pole Position to last long in the arcade. Better it was to go to the movies. Saw The Turning Point there. Wanted to see Kentucky Fried Movie but seriously doubted I could pass for over 17 or whatever.

    I think the Newmarket N. cinema was near the 2nd south facing mall entrance after the Sears. (Picadilly (frmly a Morrison’s) is at the 1st one.) Go in there and the cinema’s at the left. Concession stand was close to the front, facing where you could see it when just walking by.

    Yeah, very generic exterior shot of N. North/Fair mall. Somebody’s had to take a snapshot of or around the theater entrance sometime . . . Or maybe not.

    Hopefully this’ll jog some other folks’ memories.

    Comment by Kevin Seward — July 14, 2007 @ 10:26 am | Reply

  10. By the way, the guy who was the long-time organist at the Byrd (Eddie Weaver) had a day job as the long-time organist at the Miller & Rhoads Tea Room on the fifth floor of their downtown Richmond store.

    Comment by Dave McGrann — July 14, 2007 @ 11:29 am | Reply

  11. I think the Newmarket N. cinema was near the 2nd south facing mall entrance after the Sears.

    I have a picture of that (former) mall entrance:

    Newmarket's Second Entrance

    I think right when NetCenter became…NetCenter the theater was used for like a meeting area or like a convention center or something. Beats me if its still being used for that or not.

    The Friendly’s was there until the end of the 1980’s at least. It was mentioned in that 1988 mall directory I brought up a while back.

    Comment by Anita — July 14, 2007 @ 1:56 pm | Reply

  12. Thanks for the link to your photo and the Friendly’s & NetCenter info. Once I was out of the area, everything there fell off my radar. Something like continuity returns.

    The Tea Room days of Richmond & everything to do with organist Eddie Weaver sound very cool indeed. Liked Weaver’s grandkid’s very early recollection of W. playing for the 3-hour silent epic, Wings, from a huge music score that “looked like a New York City phone book in large print edition”. A whole other world.

    Comment by Kevin Seward — July 14, 2007 @ 8:42 pm | Reply

  13. FWIW, finally posted pics of the Riverdale theater, taken mid-May 2007:

    Comment by Kevin Seward — July 15, 2007 @ 11:13 am | Reply

  14. Also, on the CT (old) Newmarket Cinemas entry, just posted a link to the Sickmalls “them two round buildings” entry.

    Comment by Kevin Seward — July 17, 2007 @ 12:03 pm | Reply

  15. I have notion to reopen an old theater in Hampton Roads to run documentaries, host meetings and run a small book store. I contacted the Riverdale management company which leases the office space next to the the old Riverdale theaters and asked about it. They said that the interiors have been gutted and that there are tentative plans at this point for its demolition.
    I wasn’t feeling nostalgic about it until I ran across this site. I grew up in the area and saw Jaws at the Riverdale with 2 female cousins and got popcorn thrown on me by 1 of them when the head came out of the boat underwater. I saw the 1st STAR WARS at the Newmarket North Mall (before the movie blew up). And the old New Market theaters had a summer fun passes for kids where you could watch 2 or 3 films a day or something. great fun. By the way if I read an earlier post correctly someone thinks that there was a theater IN the Coliseum mall. Well I don’t THINK there was. Anyway interesting post folks.

    Comment by Avery — July 30, 2007 @ 11:33 am | Reply

  16. There was indeed a theater at the Coliseum Mall, a 3-screen General Cinema. Long gone, as I recall it was some time in the 80’s when they heavily remodeled for the first time. The cinemas were at least partially absorbed in to space that overlapped what ultimately became the new food court at the time.

    The Riverdale 3 was in fact run for a brief period of time by Regal, but of course first-run product went to their (at the time brand-new) Riverdale 12. It was not profitable and closed. It appears from Kevin’s photos however that someone has occupied the space since that time as indicated by the newer sign. When Regal left, it looked like the top-most pic.

    Comment by Carson — September 22, 2007 @ 1:28 pm | Reply

  17. I vaguely remember the Coliseum theatre. It took up the entire are of the food court.

    I am so sorry to hear of the possible demolition of the Riverdale. It’s last one left of the old Mercury stretch that still has its classic look. Wonder if we could make a petition to save it.

    Also for you vintage mall fans, I have the section of the Daily Press from the 70s that talk about Newmarket North opening. If I find it I’ll post it. My father helped build it back in the day, however I don’t have any pics. I’d always hoped they’d turn it into an outlet mall in the later years. Oh well.

    Comment by will — December 12, 2007 @ 9:26 pm | Reply

  18. I can remember seeing a movie here, again this brings back so much memories.

    Comment by M. — December 28, 2007 @ 2:14 am | Reply

  19. […] Sculpture Leftover from NEI Cinemas/Riverdale Cinemas Filed under: dead stores — Anita @ 12:53 pm {Original Post} […]

    Pingback by Sculpture Leftover from NEI Cinemas/Riverdale Cinemas « That Mall’s Sick And That Store’s Dead! — May 19, 2008 @ 12:53 pm | Reply

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