Colony Theater

5438 Six Forks Road,
Raleigh, NC 27609

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Colony Theater

Located in the Colony shopping center. Opened December 29, 1972 as the Six Forks Cinema under the Jerry Lewis Cinemas franchise. It was a single screen theatre with 360 seats. It was later twinned and was last operated as an art house cinema by Ambassador Entertainment who closed it on December 17, 2015.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 18 comments)

wraith77 on May 2, 2012 at 3:05 pm

When my grandfather, Harry Kellam, opened this theater it was a Jerry Lewis Cinema. The Jerry Lewis Cinema company went under, and because of this it was very difficult for my grandfather to receive the popular first-run movies at the time. He tried to make it a family-oriented theater using the films he had access to, but it wasn’t enough. He later sold the theater.

raysson on June 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm

This theater opened on December 29,1972 as the Six Forks Cinema and it was Raleigh’s first-ever mini cinema with a seating capacity of 360 that was owned and operated under Jerry Lewis Theatres. The opening attraction for the December 29,1972 premiere was “Joe Kidd” starring Clint Eastwood. By mid-1973,Jerry Lewis Theatres filed for bankruptcy and the ownership of the cinema changed hands under Schneider-Merl Corporation(which also operated the Valley Theatres 1 & 2 at Crabtree Valley and also the Colony at Five Points). A local manager by the name of Bill Rawls did a huge restoration of this theatre in the mid-1970’s, by converting a former restaurant into a second auditorium. By August 5,1977,a Dobly Stereo System was installed in the second auditorium which seated 500 for it’s grand opening of “MacArthur” starring Gregory Peck for the opening of the Terrace Twin that was operated under Bill Rawls Theatres and later under Martin Theatres.

By November of 1988,the Terrace went from showing first-run films to becoming a second-run discount movie house that lasted for six years until it’s closing in 1994. By 1994,Bill Peebles under his company Ambassador Entertainment restored this theatre and turned it into a art-house cinema and renamed it the Colony Theatres 1 & 2 which remains to be one of Raleigh’s top arthouse cinemas.

I have the original ads for the December 29,1972 opening of the Six Forks Cinema and also the August 5, 1977 original ad for the Terrace Twin Theatres. Any and all information can be sent to me at this address: Thank you.

raysson on June 18, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Carmike Cinemas took over the operations of the Terrace Twin from 1986 under 1994. It cease operations as a second-run discount theatre in January of 1994.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 23, 2012 at 12:33 pm


jeffk on July 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm

It was My father Harry Kellam who opened the single-screen Six Forks Cinema in 1972. It was never a Jerry Lewis Cinema. There was a competing franchise chain (even less successful than the Lewis chain) that included as celebrity backers Glenn Ford and Andy Devine. My Dad invested in that now forgotten company, obtained the franchise, designed the original theater (the concept was that these theaters would fit into existing shopping mall/strip mall store spaces), all before the national franchise went bankrupt. With that backing and support gone, Harry Kellam went ahead and opened the theater to show G and PG movies. Ooops.

Two things moved him out of the business: 1) audiences weren’t very interested in “family” entertainment, and 2) Dad realized that he’d wind up being at the cinema every day, 7 days a week, 365/year, cleaning bathrooms, and walking what receipts there were to the bank in the dark. He leased the placed out until he could sell it. (Well, there was also a projectionist who wasn’t always sober enough to run the equipment, but that’s another story.)

NightHawk1 on March 26, 2014 at 12:28 am

If this was never a Jerry Lewis franchise then that company never entered North Carolina. The only mini-cinema chain in North Carolina I am aware of was the Trans-Lux Inflight Cine' chain, which built its first NC location in Kinston (originally single-screen, it is listed on CT as Plaza Cinema Twin). Others followed in Kannapolis, Charlotte, Burlington, Greensboro and High Point. The dedicated mini-cinema chains such as Jerry Lewis, Trans-Lux Inflight Cine' and whatever company the Six Forks Cinema was to affiliate with were on the ropes by 1972, as the established chains started building mini-twins of their own. The fact that this cinema ever opened, let alone is still operating as a cinema over forty years later, is amazing. Most other mini-cinemas from the late 1960s-early 1970s closed down decades ago when the multiplexes crowded them out; many mini-cinemas (including all NC Trans-Lux Inflight Cine’s except Kinston) became porn theaters at some point in their existence. The Six Forks Cinema/Terrace Twin/Colony Twin never to my knowledge operated as a pornhouse, although some X-rated films may have been shown there.

Shagndj on May 8, 2015 at 10:28 am

Correction, NightHawk1. Jerry Lewis Cinemas had one location in Siler City, NC. Seems like I ran across a few other locations over the years. One other such franchise was Chris McGuire theatres which originally opens Southgate in Thomasville. You are correct that most of these were losers and closed rather quickly.

raysson on October 7, 2015 at 4:16 pm

Shagndj: For your information there was NEVER a Jerry Lewis Cinema located in Siler City, NC. The only operating movie theater at that time was the Siler City Drive-In right off Highway 64.

raysson on December 21, 2015 at 2:08 pm

This theater is permanently closed. The last day of business was on December 17, 2015.

CJ1949 on September 11, 2019 at 11:34 pm

There were at least two Jerry Lewis theatres in NC: Siler City and Mt Airy. Siler City opened in Oct 71. Hollywood Reporter of 10-28-71 reported “a 350 seat Jerry Lewis Cinema opened Friday in the Park Shopping Center in Siler City [they misspelled it Silver] NC. Area Director is Mini Theatres of Raleigh, the franchise owner-operator is C & L Development Co.” Earlier, the Siler City-Chatham News had a photo of the construction in its 9-16-71 edition. The caption said this would be the first indoor theatre the city had had in almost 10 years, after the fire that destroyed the Elder Theatre. Said the Siler City location was “one of the first of the chain in North Carolina.”

The Mount Airy News of 10-1-71 said that JBJ Enterprises Inc is constructing a theatre on “US 52 Bypass, adjacent to the City View Motel. The structure is tentatively scheduled to open by Jan. 1. Seating to be 350, a parking lot for 130 cars.” JBJ “is headed by Joe Johnson Sr. and Joe Keyes. The property is being developed to their specifications by E.D. Bray Jr. and Gary Pruett. Jerome Samet of Mount Airy is contractor for the construction work.” It went on to say the operators were going to have a 15-year lease and this would be the 4th theatre in the area, with 1 hardtop and 2 drive ins currently operating.

Neither of these have a listing on Cinema Treasures under their respective cities.

Re the ‘other’ chains. The Glenn Ford one was with Agnes Moorhead and Debbie Reynolds – have not seen Andy Devine mentioned with this but it’s possible he was an investor.

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