The Queen, The Phoenix is Rising Again

If you have driven or walked down North Market Street in Wilmington, you have probably noticed all the construction at 5th and Market. You may already know that World Café Live will be using the building for a restaurant, performance space, and radio studio.

What you might not realize is that the building that World Café Live is moving into was once a hot spot on Market Street. The Queen was the place to be and be seen. Famous Delawareans and national celebrities could be spotted there from time to time.  The theater was filled with music, dancing and excitement. And now, in just a few months, it will once again be filled with all those things.

The 222 years of history associated with the location and its buildings can really be seen as a modern-day phoenix story. The buildings on the site have seen openings, closings, reopenings, and remodelings. The earliest history of the site begins in 1789. The building there was the Indian Queen Tavern, a small and simple building that still served as a gathering point for the block.  If we fast forward to 1847, we see the small building receiving its first major remodel to become a three-story building. In 1871 that building was torn down and replaced with the Clayton House, an elegant hotel.

In 1916, the building would transform once again into the Queen Theatre. This change lasted until 1942 when it was once again closed down, renovated, redecorated and reopened. In 1959 the Queen theatre closed for what appeared to be forever. However, this phoenix was not done yet. In 2011, 51 years after what seemed to be its final closing, the Queen will spring to life again.

This newest reinvention will bring a new life to the city of Wilmington. To me it really feels like I’m seeing history unfold before my eyes. I can see the timeline from the past and I can see how it’s continuing into today and the future.  When I think of history being made every day, and every hour, these are the kind of things I believe illustrate it the best.

-Until Next Post-


*All photos are the property of the Delaware Historical Society, all rights reserved. To recieve a copy of a photo please contact our research librarian Ellen Rendle at

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