Charleston’s Garden Theater For Sale
The Garden Theater, which opened on January 14, 1918 in Charleston, South Carolina, is for sale. When it opened, one entered across a tile floor, under a huge ornate arch, into a garden of hanging flower baskets, caged singing canaries, trellises and crystal chandeliers.
Silent movies were shown at first accompanied by Margaret Dengate on an American Footplayer which was a piano-organ complete with sound effects. Mrs. Dengate said in an interview in 1993, “I could make the sounds of shooting pistols, slamming doors, creaks and others.”
In 1929 the Garden Theater began a policy of showing only films made in the Vitaphone process. The first film of this type was On Trial with Pauline Frederick. After the demolition in 1946 of the nearby Victory Theater, at which stage attractions had been presented in addition to films, the Garden Theater presented both film and stage shows.
The City of Charleston leased the Garden Theater in 1977 and made substantial renovation including extending the stage and installing new heating and air conditioning systems. The 650 seat theater reopened in 1978 with live stage shows and motion pictures. Until recently, Spoleto Festival USA used the theater for performances that required a smaller venue.
In 2002, the City of Charleston did not renew its lease. The Beach Company, a Charleston real estate company that owns the Garden Theater, placed it for sale. A related story can be found in the Post and Courier newspaper at http://charleston.net/stories/042703/jon_27jones.shtml