Showing 12 comments
My understanding is that the refurbished Movies at the Lake and the Palace were killing each other. Supposedly the sale of the Palace to Eastern Federal was negotiated. EF then closed it down to protect their Movies at the Lake. The Palace was supposedly the nicer cinema, but it was suggested that the ego was involved on the part of EF in which theater was closed. Could well have been more of economic decision,though. I seem to recall that the Palace was built so that if its days as a cinema came to an end, the building could be stripped and leave a large flat floored building for other uses.
The newest auditorium received the seats from the Tryon Theatre (now the Athens in New Bern). They were pink because the Tryon was slated to be turned into an X rated theatre, but that never panned out.
Also, there was a theater in Bayboro, NC that doesn’t appear on the CT list. It eventually was turned into a bowling alley, and at one time, and later a seafood restaurant. I think the buildig is still there.
As well, there was a theater in Vanceboro, NC. I think that building might still be there as well.
Illustration of original Athens front.
There was a drive in across from Bosch on old 70. Into the 80s the drive in ridges and the ruin of the projection room were still there amidst second growth pines. The lay out seemed to be with the projection room nearest the road, with the concession stand set beneath or beside the screen.
New apartments were build on/around the site. I believe that Kensington Park Drive cuts through where the drive used to be. From map or satellite view, there is a large body of water to the northeast of where the drive in stood, but that is the old Martin-Marietta quarry and was not likely to have been there at the time.
I can’t remember if Mr. Parrott (of Midway and Southgate cinemas) operated the one on old 70, but I’m pretty sure he operated one on hwy 17 at some point, but cannot recall its exact location.
I do not think the theater in the photograph was the Palace. It was, I believe, the New Ritz.
The Athens was eventually purchased by a Mr. Keyhoe, who changed the name to the Keyhoe. It was later sold to S&E, who renamed it the Tryon, which it remained until the New Bern Civic theater reverted to the original Athens.
This is the first I’ve heard of a “Star” theater in New Bern, very interesting.
Another competitor during the downtown movie house days would have been the Colonial Theater where the Branch’s Office Supply & Furniture is currently located at 309 Pollock Street.
The theater that was last an Arabian Temple, was opened as the “New Ritz” when the original Ritz theater was demolished for the expansion of Broad street from a tree lined two lane to a four lane roadway.
Built about 1970 and operated by Stewart & Everett Theatres corp until that entity was purchased by Carmike Cinemas in 1987.
A second screen was opened in late 1977 and the cinema was renamed “Neuse Village Cinemas”. A third screen was added about 1983. The original was a rocking chair cinema. the two additions were standard Irwin theater seats.
It now operates as an independent, with digital cinemas.
This was operated by the now defunct Stewart & Everett Theater corp from some time in the late 50s until 1979.
After Southgate Cinemas and the Rocking Chair Cinema on Neuse Blvd. were opened, the “Tryon Theatre” mostly played martial arts and blaxploitation films, with X rated late night films on Fridays and Saturdays.
Its last hurrah was a long run of Star Wars after the Rocking Chair Cinema (same owner) was tied down to honoring its contract to Fox to show the forgettable Other Side of Midnight.
With its lease expiring, S&E Cinemas chose not to re-up and removed their equipment. It was purchased sometime later by the New Bern Civic Theater company for live productions.
This cinema was opened in 1972 as a rocking chair twin. It was owned by Gordon Parrott, who also owned a small chain of grocery chairs and the nearby Midway Drive In.
After Mr. Parrott’s death, it was leased by the owner of ITBS out of Charlotte who operated it from 1988 until 2011. The cinema was expanded to six screens that opened early fall 1989. There were three different corporation names during that time, as the chain grew, but the same owner of the business.
The property was sold around 2009, and in May of 2011 the new property owners claimed a technical breaking of the lease and blocked all doors during the night with bulldozers. They began operating the cinema some months following that. The issue is still in litigation.
There are several companies, Southeastern, Carmike and rumored several others who have been in contact concerning a new shopping center and housing development owned by Weyerhauser. Most proposals appear to be related to state of the art cinemas of between 14 and 16 screens.