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This is a comment from Shannon Smith from the Facebook group “Charlotte N.C. The Past and Present” – I’m posting this with her permission. Fascinating look into the use of the Imperial after it closed. Many thanks to Shannon!
“In the summers of 1965 &1966, CMS had a theatre arts summer school in the Imperial Theatre. There were students from all over the county. The theatre was already closed for movies, but it was originally built as a performing hall. It contained all of the necessary equipment to move scenery, work lights and have wings to make it possible to get on and off the stage easily. There was a basement where dressing rooms were. We had our own full orchestra, a singing tutor and Mr Hall taught us the proper lighting techniques as well as proper theatre etiquette. For 5 of the 6 weeks of the school, we put on a 30 minute musical and even had to add "matinee” on Wednesday’s. The cost for admission was 50¢ and we usually had the house half full or better. It was because of Mr. Hall’s vision that CMS agreed to this for these two years. It made a HUGE impact on all of us who attended, pointing some to a future career.
The Belk Family has contributed $8,000,000 to the renovation of the Carolina. YES.
There are plans to turn the old Romina into a bookstore.
Chuck, a link to an article from the Burlington Times-News is attached. http://timesnews125.com/history/19390307.php
I believe Andrews Street no longer exists. The State is where I saw “The Truth About Spring” with Hayley Mills, and “Shenandoah”, which made me cry. I think I was eight.
Another theater existed in Burlington that was owned by the Qualls family. The State Theater, located on Andrews Street, opened in 1939. A short article in the Burlington Times News is attached, along with a link. http://timesnews125.com/history/19390307.php
This article appeared in today’s Charlotte Observer – wonderful!
The Belmont Drive-In’s spring reopening was delayed due to storm damage – but they’re opening in a couple of weeks!
In the early ‘60s, my family lived about a mile down the road from the Circle G. I remember movies such as “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” and “Blood Feast” featured on its roadside marquee. Silicon Sam, that is indeed the place!
Patricia, you’re right – the Center wasn’t right across the street from Carolinas Medical Center, but just two blocks down Kings Drive. When I was a little girl, my mother worked for radio station WIST selling air time, and two of her accounts were the Manor and Center Theaters. I got to see an awful lot of free movies!
I saw Close Encounters there as well!
Patsy, I don’t know if you ever received an answer regarding the WBT Briarhoppers, but if not…they were a country quartet that performed regularly on WBT-AM radio dating back to at least the 1930s. If you go out Nations Ford Road headed south, the old WBT studios built in the ‘20s are still there – however, the building is fenced off.
And this begs the question: if an upscale theatre could be built for uptown Charlotte, why couldn’t the funds have gone to save the Carolina?
Towards the end the South 29 showed nothing but porn. Various businesses, including a satellite branch of the police dept., now sit on the land where the drive-in was.
Wasn’t there a theatre in downtown Mooresville until at least the ‘70s? I swear I remember seeing “Cold Turkey” with Dick Van Dyke there.
I remember riding by the Imperial Theatre during shopping trips to Charlotte with my grandmother; by that time it had been closed. Patsy, I plan to order “Remembering Charlotte” and I’ll scan the photo and post it.
Mark from Davidson: My grandparents' home is almost directly across Hwy 115 from this site. I remember this drive-in from my childhood, but for some reason they would never take us there!
Steve, could you send pictures of the Colonial to me as well? My e-mail is
My grandparents lived in Kannapolis. When I would visit them, very often my grandfather would take me to the movies. I remember seeing “That Darn Cat” and “The Incredible Mr. Limpet” at the Gem, and “The Nutty Professor” with Jerry Lewis at the Swanee. I also remember my grandmother buying shoes for me right next door to the Gem at Coulter’s!
They lived on Bell Street, one block away from the Table Supply, which used to be the Dixie Theatre. When my mother was a little girl and lived on Leonard Avenue, she saw her very first movie there – “The Wizard of Oz”! How sad that this wonderful building has been torn down in the name of progress.