The Melba Theater
An Experience to Remember
The Melba theater was originally constructed as a mercantile store at the lower end of Main Street in Batesville.
It was eventually remodeled in Art Deco style and reopened in 1940 to become one of the Arkansas' first cinemascope theaters. The theater was popular and one of the best in the state.
As downtown districts suffered major decline throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Batesville was no exception. By the early 1990s the theater was forced to close its doors to make way for the new multi-screen theater in town. The structure itself began to decline until it was in a serious condition.
Although some repairs and alterations were made and a brief reopening attempt made in 2000, the theater ultimately ended up closed again and in a state of disrepair.
In 2013, Main Street Batesville downtown renewal organization underwent a renewal of its own, with an all-new board and visionary leaders in place. Hints of a turnaround soon became evident in the downtown district. The entire downtown business district made the National Register of Historic Places. Excitement grew.
And in 2015, the Melba was purchased by a group of dedicated and patient investors who were passionate about Batesville and its history and wanted to see the theater properly restored as the historic treasure it is.
The restoration of the Melba Theater drew statewide attention and its grand opening brought visitors from across Arkansas to witness the massive accomplishment.
It now stands as the anchor of the downtown business district, a wildly popular family theater, a community-focused business that constantly gives back, and proof that Main Street Batesville is a comeback story.