Right the Record: Benjamin Thomas Pitts

January 21, 1889 – July 21, 1964

  • Benjamin Thomas Pitts was born January 21, 1889 in Fredericksburg, VA to Carolinus Lenus Pitts and Victoria Coghill Pitts. He had several brothers and sisters.
  • He became an honor student, and his dream was to go to college but, his formal education ended in the eighth grade.
  • In 1909, then 20-year-old Pitts, with $75 in savings and $50 borrowed from his brother, leased an old opera house and rented film to open his first “Pitts Theater” for an admission fee of five cents.
  • Benjamin Pitts married Eleanor Broaddus Hughlett, of Fredericksburg, on April 25, 1910 in Rockville, Maryland. They later divorced on November 10, 1933 in Fredericksburg, VA.
  • Pitts was the father of one son, Benjamin Broaddus Pitts, who died in infancy and one daughter, Mrs. Norma Hughlett Pitts Lowry (Mrs. Walter Lowry, Jr.) and grandfather to one granddaughter.
  • Benjamin was the founder of Pitts Enterprises, Inc. headquartered in Fredericksburg. He owned a chain of thirty-seven movie theaters in Virginia. He also owned Pitts Bowling Alleys on North Main Street in Culpeper, VA which opened on Friday, April 26, 1940.
  • Pitts began his political career with his first appointment to the Fredericksburg City Council in 1933 to fill the unexpired term of a former councilman. He was then re-elected in 1936 and 1940. He served as City Councilman for ten years.
  • Benjamin Pitts won the Virginia State Senate election in 1943 and served until 1958. He resigned his state senate seat in May 1958 due to ill health.
  • He was involved in numerous state, civic, community, public service and business affairs, serving in many leadership roles. He was a member of Fredericksburg Baptist Church serving in various church duties and activities. His many philanthropic activities included distributing college scholarships to high school seniors and giving silver dollars annually to youngsters if they correctly answered a history question.
  • Benjamin Pitts, of Fredericksburg, died on July 21, 1964 at the Medical College of Virginia Hospital in Richmond where he had been a patient since October 1957. He was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Fredericksburg among his parents, siblings, and son.
  • At the time of Pitts’ death, his estate was valued at $2,125,000.

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Honoring the lives of African Americans in Culpeper, Virginia