Our History

The Queen Theater re-opened its doors on April 1st, 2011. Originally built in the 1800s, the Queen sat dormant and left to ruin since 1959. With water pouring through her ceilings, her walls caving in and her façade crumbling, this regal theater had become a faded memory of Market’s Street’s vibrant past.

The significance of the Queen’s re-opening reaches far beyond its walls, symbolizing the tremendous commitment our community has to ensuring downtown Wilmington becomes a lively city where all arts venues, businesses and restaurants thrive. The goal of the Foundation is simple — to build community through music. With the renovation complete, LUQ is committed to ensuring the Queen Theater is a catalyst that fosters life-long interest and appreciation for music and the arts. Through its outreach programs, it provides hands-on music programs to local schools and other non-profit organizations with limited arts-education funding. These programs give students an opportunity to discover and express their musical talents. LUQ served 3,000 local students in our first year through its Outreach Music Education Programs.

Our History

The Queen Theater re-opened its doors on April 1st, 2011. Originally built in the 1800s, the Queen sat dormant and left to ruin since 1959. With water pouring through her ceilings, her walls caving in and her façade crumbling, this regal theater had become a faded memory of Market’s Street’s vibrant past.

The significance of the Queen’s re-opening reaches far beyond its walls, symbolizing the tremendous commitment our community has to ensuring downtown Wilmington becomes a lively city where all arts venues, businesses and restaurants thrive. The goal of the Foundation is simple — to build community through music. With the renovation complete, LUQ is committed to ensuring the Queen Theater is a catalyst that fosters life-long interest and appreciation for music and the arts. Through its outreach programs, it provides hands-on music programs to local schools and other non-profit organizations with limited arts-education funding. These programs give students an opportunity to discover and express their musical talents. LUQ served 3,000 local students in our first year through its Outreach Music Education Programs.

The Indian Queen Hotel is built.

1789

A celebration of US freedom is held at a space in the hotel known as the Queen of Otaheite Tavern, named after the South Pacific island that had been visited by a Wilmington whaling vessel.

July 4, 1797

Martin Van Buren, seven years before he was elected President of the United States, visits the Queen.

1829

Despite harsh economic conditions, hotel proprietor John Hall doubles the Queen’s capacity by making it three stories high.

1847

Artisans’ Bank and the First National Bank of Wilmington buy the Indian Queen as a combination headquarters, but decide to upgrade it into a first-class hotel, the Clayton House, at a price tag of $200,000. An additional two stories were added, bringing the building’s total height to five stories.

March 25, 1871

The Clayton House gives way to a $250,000 movie theatre with enough seating in the auditorium and on the balcony for 2,000 people.

1916

The movie theatre closes, showing House on Haunted Hill as its final film. The Queen remains dark for the next five decades.

April, 1959

Hal Real and his Real Entertainment Group open World Cafe Live in Philadelphia. Designed to host “good, live music for grown-ups,” it shares the same building as non-profit radio station WXPN, whose World Cafe program inspired the venue’s name.

October 2004

Hal Real begins talks with Wilmington-based real estate developers the Buccini/Pollin Group and official from the City of Wilmington to discuss restoring the Queen into a fully operational performing-arts venue. A deal is met and fundraising efforts for the $25 million project get underway.

2008

Construction begins on the 45,000-square-foot World Cafe Live at The Queen, with a spring 2011 opening date announced.

October 2009

Benefit concerts held by Light Up The Queen Foundation feature Wilmington resident David Bromberg and New Orleans native Trombone Shorty, who performs on the roof of the nearby ShopRite.

2010

Demolition reveals three 10’ x 18’ murals still in excellent condition. Representing beauty, painting and music, the murals were obstructed by soundproofing panels when The Queen was converted from a hotel into a theatre.

November 2010

World Cafe Live at The Queen opens its doors. The rest, as they say, is history.

April 1, 2011

Thank You for Donating Today

The Light Up The Queen Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit, is dedicated to the preservation of the Queen Theater in Wilmington, DE. Donations from Community Partners ensure that the Light Up The Queen Foundation can continue providing quality Music & Arts Education programming in the historic Queen Theater.