History of Arts Enter and the Historic Palace Theater


Thank you for celebrating the Palace turning 75 on March 18, 2017. We enjoyed a welcome cocktail, hors d’oeuvres, birthday cake, speaker, and movie. The movie for the evening was “Rage in Heaven,” the first movie shown at the Palace. There was a cash bar.

5:30 – 6:30 – Tours, Beer, Wine, Sodas, Hors d’oeuvres
6:30 – 7:00 – Mingle, Speaker, Birthday cake
7:00 – Box office opens for $5.00 movie tickets
7:30 – Movie showtime

1940’s dress optional. Costumes rentals were available.


Arts Enter was incorporated in 1997 as a not-for-profit organization. It is governed by a Board of Directors who represent cultural, educational and business diversities of the community.  Arts Enter closed the Stage Door Gallery at year-end 2015. The leased ground floor building area was taken over by Clelia Sheppard on January 1 and she opened the refurbished space under the Lemon Tree name in April 2016.

We began our arts and music education programs in a classroom in the old Cape Charles High School that was offered by the Town of Cape Charles, and a temporary dance studio was created, courtesy of Chesapeake Properties on Mason Avenue. Fifty dance students enrolled during the first year. Our first two productions, Magia and Benjamin’s Grotto, were original productions and were performed at the Palace Theatre through a rental agreement with the owners, the Savage family.

In 1998, Arts Enter was offered the option to buy the Art Deco style Historic Palace Theatre, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by a German architect, Alfred M. Lublin and was built as a movie house.  In its day, the Palace Theatre was considered one of the finest theatres on the east coast and held 380 orchestra level seats as well as fifty balcony seats. The terrazzo floors, walnut paneling, and foyer mirrors give way to the entrance of this vintage treasure, a most exclusive and elegant appeal. The story of the Palace Theatre is very much the story of Cape Charles. At the Palace’s opening in 1942, its impressive size and luxurious décor symbolized the confidence and aspirations of this thriving transportation hub. As Cape Charles slid into decline during the 60’s, so did the Palace. Today, both have been reborn and the Palace Theatre has resumed its role as the cultural heart of the community.

On July 7, 1998 Arts Enter became the new owners of the theatre, which opened the possibility to centralize both the Visual and Performing Arts under one roof. This center for the arts is now a hive of culture, entertainment and instruction.  The addition of the Stage Door Gallery  further expanded the horizons of this artistic panorama.

Performances at the historic Palace Theatre offer a wide range of artistic talent; over the years the most notable being the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Opera, Virginia Musical Theatre, Bay Youth Orchestra, Virginia Children’s Chorus, as well as several in-house original productions. Arts Enter has exciting programs planned for the Palace Theatre each season along with an impressive list of class activities in dance, painting, pottery, music and drama.Our attendance record for performances and youth workshops has continued to grow over the years and now tops over 8,600 attendees for performances and over 3,500 participants in youth programs each year.