Colony Theater

5438 Six Forks Road,
Raleigh, NC 27609

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NightHawk1
NightHawk1 on March 26, 2014 at 1:28 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.

jeffk
jeffk on July 11, 2012 at 5:14 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.)

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm

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raysson
raysson on June 18, 2012 at 3:44 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.

raysson
raysson on June 18, 2012 at 3:41 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.

wraith77
wraith77 on May 2, 2012 at 4:05 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.

NightHawk1
NightHawk1 on May 2, 2012 at 11:45 am

This theater was known briefly in the early 1970s as the Six Forks Cinema (not to be confused with the Six Forks Station 6, which opened in 1986). This first Six Forks Cinema was a single-screen theater, basically the Jerry Lewis Cinema without the Jerry Lewis name. This incarnation also failed, and it subsequently became the Terrace Twin.

Brian_Phillips
Brian_Phillips on November 3, 2011 at 11:02 pm

I managed this theater for Carmike from August 1993 until it closed in January 1994. Spent a huge amount of time and energy trying to clean it up – it was absolutely nasty when I took it over – only to have Carmike drop the ball on the lease.

wraith77
wraith77 on September 18, 2009 at 1:57 pm

My grandfather was the one who opened the original “left side” theater when the shopping center was built. Being the guy that he is, he couldn’t bring himself to charge what was needed for sodas and snacks in order to keep the theater afloat. So he sold it. I might still have the newspaper clipping from the Raleigh Times when the theater opened. I’ll see if I can find it.

seanjung
seanjung on August 7, 2008 at 6:21 pm

Back to doing what it does best: Movies! Reopened by local resident Bill Peebles who runs Ambassador Entertainment. Runs independent, foreign and art films.

They have a website:
View link

rsmayton
rsmayton on October 4, 2007 at 10:26 pm

I was the projectionist from summer of 91 till they closed it in early Jan 94. We tried to keep it open but when the discount multiplex opened they closed us down. We were dispersed to different cinemas but Terrace was the best. It was the ugliest theater EVER. Post pictures if you got them!!!

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on September 14, 2007 at 8:17 pm

Stan Schneider and Leonard Merl of the Schneider-Merl chain were the operators of this theater in the early eighties, along with the Valley in Raleigh.

makeitrain
makeitrain on December 22, 2005 at 5:33 pm

I’ll scan some pics and upload them when I get my computer back – I’m in the middle of moving…

makeitrain
makeitrain on December 22, 2005 at 5:30 pm

This used to be the Terrace Twin until Carmike surveyed it off, and it makes no sense that the current owners (a reputable Raleigh company, Ambassador Entertainment, that runs art and foreign films in several ‘used’ area theatres that it’s bought over the years and fixed up) would rename it. The ‘Terrace Dynasty’ was the last theatre ever built in Raleigh that would acquire a following for the theatre/building itself. The Colony was originally the name of the art-deco Rialto, at Five Points.

Back in the 1960’s, for a small pile of money, you could own your own neighborhood, franchised, Jerry Lewis Theatre, and that’s exactly what the left side (pink side, what we used to call the ‘gay side’), was when Colony Shopping Center was first built. It failed. A local theatre owner named Bill Rawls picked it up, took over a good-sized restaurant next door, converted it into a large, unique 360-seat, odd-shaped, auditorium with brown/orange/white carpeted walls (gold side. what we called the ‘straight side’)or ‘butch side’) and re-named it the Terrace. (Mr. Rawls was a former manager for ABC Southeastern Theatres, and this was at a time when they were building Cardinal Theatres and Terrace Theatres all over the Carolinas and Virginia — nice ones, too — so, it just seemed to be the first name that popped into his head.) He eventually sold it to Martin Theatres.

Martin kept it as a first-run theatre, and it performed surprisingly well when given half a chance (usually, back then, all the really good movies would end up at the Valley Twin — also owned by Martin — or the Cardinal at North Hills — owned by ABC-Southeastern and then Plitt). Years went by, Martin Theatres became Carmike Cinemas, and when the Valley Twin in Crabtree Valley Mall closed and was replaced by the Carmike 7 (now Carmike 15) on Atlantic Springs Road, that put more first-run screens in that part of Raleigh than the Terrace could handle for competition. (Cineplex-Odeon hadn’t helped with the Six Forks Station cinemas even closer by — now owned by the same people who own the ‘Colony’ — but the intrepid Terrace was not to be intimidated or put down that easy …)

The Terrace then roared back as a second-run, 99-cent theatre. I was the manager there in 1990 and 1991. After I was transferred to another theatre, the Terrace stayed open another year, then the lease ran out, and Carmike put it up for sale WITHOUT TELLING ME DAMMEMTOHELL!!!!! (I’d just inherited a few bucks, and could have… could have …) By the time I found out, the current owners had already made their deal.

At least, they fixed it up (Carmike wouldn’t allow me the budget when I was there), and didn’t do anything I wouldn’t have done except rename it …

Take good care of it, guys. I like to pay it a visit when I’m down that way…