Donk’s earns spot on historic register

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Feb 09, 2011 - 04:33 PM

Donk’s Theater in Mathews has been named to the National Register of Historic Places.

Joanna Mullins Nix, a member of the Donk’s extended family of country music performers, said the news came as a bit of a surprise when she was notified last Friday. Although the theater had been named to the Virginia Landmarks Register, and most Virginia entries are accepted to the national listing, she had been told the chance of acceptance "didn’t look strong."

However, she said, the eight-foot-tall sidelights mounted on the interior side walls of the building were an important feature, along with the fact that the structure is one of the few Art Deco-style theaters still standing. Built in the U.S. in the mid-20th century, most had been demolished by the century’s end, she said.

According to the nomination form, the Donk’s property qualifies under two criteria. The theater "is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history," and it "embodies the distinctive characteristics of type, period, or method of construction or represents the work of a master, or possesses high artistic values, or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components lack individual distinction."

The areas of significance listed are entertainment/recreation and architecture.