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R.E. Martin was born on a farm near Columbus in 1885. He had but little education, his formal schooling not extending beyond fractions. Circumstances made it necessary for him to begin work at an early age to help support his family. For a while he sold commercial insurance at Montgomery, Alabama, and later conducted a furniture business at Chattanooga, Tennessee.
In 1912 he returned to Columbus and purchased a nickel moving picture theatre, known as the Bonita Theatre, located in that city. In 1914 he built another motion picture theatre, the Grand Theatre, in Columbus which he sold in 1917. In the meantime he had sold the Bonita and had repurchased it in 1915.
In 1920 Martin built the Pastime Theatre in North Highlands, a suburb of Columbus, at a cost of between $10,000 and $11,000. It was put into operation in the fall of 1921. In 1927, he built the Royal Theater, later known as the Three Arts.
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