Painted Stave Distilling is located in the Old Smyrna Theater, a movie house first opened in downtown Smyrna in 1947. The theater was built by the Schwartz family along with sister buildings in Dover and Middletown. The Smyrna Theater was the last completed and was considered the most advanced theater in Delaware when it opened.
Dwindling attendance in the 1970’s forced the theater to close, with the blockbuster Jaws as the last feature film shown in 1975. After the projectors went dark, the Theater found a second life as a music venue for traveling country and bluegrass bands including Johnny Paycheck and others. This was short lived and in 1981 the building was sold to the Collens family and converted into a heating and plumbing supply store. The seats and projectors were sold off and the second floor was converted into offices, but many of the original fixtures were preserved in hopes that they would be used again someday.
When the plumbing supply store closed in 2005, the building sat empty and began to show its age. Water slowly eroded some of the plaster and a few cracks formed here and there. That was the condition of the building when Painted Stave founders Ron and Mike first toured the building in the fall of 2011 as they looked for a home for their distillery.
In December of 2012, Old Smyrna Theater LLC purchased the building, and the first floor (6,300 sqft) was leased to Painted Stave Distilling to house our production space, tasting room and event venue. Renovations on the building began in January 2013, and today the Old Smyrna Theater is alive again, playing a new role in crafting premium local spirits in beautiful downtown Smyrna.