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Timeline of Queen History

Key dates in the history of Market Street’s famed building.



1789:
The Indian Queen Hotel is built.

July 4, 1797:
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.

1829:
Martin Van Buren, seven years before he was elected President of the United States, visits the Queen.

1847:
Despite harsh economic conditions, hotel proprietor John Hall doubles the Queen’s capacity by making it three stories high.

March 25, 1871:
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.

1916:
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.

April 1959:
The movie theatre closes, showing House on Haunted Hill as its final film. The Queen remains dark for the next five decades.

October 2004:
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 nonprofit radio station WXPN, whose World Cafe program inspired the venue’s name.

2008:
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.

October 2009:
Construction begins on the 45,000-square-foot World Cafe Live at The Queen, with a spring 2011 opening date announced.

2010:
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.

November 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.

April 1, 2011:
World Cafe Live at The Queen opens its doors. The rest, as they say, is history.

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