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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Bath in Beaufort County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

James Adams Floating Theatre

 
 
James Adams Floating Theatre Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, April 19, 2013
1. James Adams Floating Theatre Marker
Inscription.
Toured coastal towns,
1913-1941. Edna Ferber's
1925 visit to ship, then
docked nearby, was basis
for her novel Show Boat.

 
Erected 1989 by Division of Archives and History. (Marker Number B-56.)
 
Location. 35° 28.613′ N, 76° 48.842′ W. Marker is in Bath, North Carolina, in Beaufort County. Marker is on South Main Street, on the right when traveling south. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Bath NC 27808, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Palmer - Marsh House (a few steps from this marker); First Public Library (within shouting distance of this marker); Matthew Rowan (within shouting distance of this marker); Colonial Bath (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); First Post Road (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Colonial Bath (about 600 feet away); Historic Bath (about 600 feet away); Alexander Stewart (approx. 0.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Bath.
 
Regarding James Adams Floating Theatre. † A bit of twentieth-century American cultural history had its origins in Bath, North Carolinaís oldest town. The scene was
James Adams Floating Theatre Marker, on South Main Street image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, April 19, 2013
2. James Adams Floating Theatre Marker, on South Main Street
the James Adams Floating Theatre, a two-story scow measuring 132 feet long and thirty-four feet wide. Built in Washington, North Carolina, in 1913, the showboat was modeled on those that had plied the Mississippi, although it was never so ornate in appearance. The ship seated 700 and was not self-propelled, being tugged to each new location. The owners were James Adams and his wife Gertrude. The star was Adamsí sister Beulah, billed as the “Mary Pickford of the Pamlico.” Each seasonís premiere was at Elizabeth City, and then it was on to such towns as Hertford, Edenton, Plymouth, and Columbia. Through 1930, when it was sold to new owners in Maryland, the James Adams regularly brought melodramas and vaudeville to coastal North Carolina. The Maryland owners expanded its territory into Georgia and Florida. It burned and sank in Savannah in 1941.

†††Novelist Edna Ferber in 1924 won the Pulitzer Prize for her book So Big and hit upon the idea of using a showboat as the setting for her next work. Researching the subject, she learned of the James Adams and “dashed down to Carolina.” Arriving in Washington, she hired a driver to take her to the landing where the showboat rested. She got there just as they were putting up for the winter but determined to return the next spring. That she did, finding quarters for her four-day stay in Bath, which she described
James Adams Floating Theatre Marker, looking south along South Main Street image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, April 19, 2013
3. James Adams Floating Theatre Marker, looking south along South Main Street
as a “decaying little hamlet.” She had little good to say of her accommodations in the Palmer-Marsh House. Ferberís account, published in her 1939 autobiography, reads like that of eighteenth-century travelers visiting backcountry Carolina taverns.

††† Edna Ferber was much more taken with the James Adams Floating Theatre than the town of Bath. She worked, played, rehearsed, and ate with the twenty-five-member company. “Those four days comprised the only show-boat experience I ever had,” she later wrote. Her novel, Show Boat, was published by Doubleday in 1926 and became an instant bestseller. In time it was adapted into a landmark musical by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II. Three motion picture versions have been made, in 1929, 1936, and 1951. (North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources)
 
Categories. EntertainmentWaterways & Vessels
 
James Adams Floating Theatre image. Click for full size.
North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources, `
4. James Adams Floating Theatre
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 605 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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