Built in 1910 by Monroe Bowers ("Pink") Morton, the Morton Theatre is one of the first, and the oldest surviving vaudeville theatres in the United States, uniquely built, owned, and operated by an African-American.
In its heyday, the Morton Theatre hosted early acts such Butterbeans and Susie, Blind Willie McTell, Curley Weaver, Cab Calloway, and Bessie Smith. The theatre also experienced the dawn of the silver screen as a movie house.
The Morton Building housed not only the theatre, but also many of Athens’ black doctors, dentists and pharmacists and other professionals. The fully restored Morton Theatre was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, and was adapted as a performing arts space through the 1987 citizen-approved SPLOST (Special Projects Local Option Sales Tax) funding in 1993.
In 2013, Plumgood Productions produced a documentary film about the Morton Building, Theatre, its owner, and its influence on the local community. The Soul of Athens: A History of the Morton Theatre has since won a Platinum Best of Show Aurora Award for excellence of content, execution and creativity.