Capitol Theater

118 Main Street,
Fairmont, NC 28340

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The Capitol Theater was opened in the 1930’s and closed in 1960. It was razed in July 2006 after years of disuse.

Contributed by Kenneth McIntyre

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Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 28, 2007 at 10:49 am

The Robesonian July 14, 2006

“Fairmont theater demolished to make room for park

By Roxana Ross – Staff writer

FAIRMONT – The old Capitol Theater’s tattered curtain finally fell Tuesday, and with it crumbled an historic centerpiece for the town. But town officials say that the theater stood in the way of revitalizing and beautifying the downtown area.

About 20 people gathered in the parking lot behind the building as a bulldozer struck the first blow on Tuesday at about 11:45 a.m. By the end of the day, the interior of the old building had been cleared. Three walls were left standing, and the work is expected to continue throughout this week.

The theater has not operated for almost 50 years.

Ben Brady, who owns Webster Pharmacy next door, stood and watched. The last movie Brady remembers seeing there was “The Ten Commandments” starring Charlton Heston.

“It’s just long overdue,” Brady said. “I’ve been here 28 years and it’s been in bad shape for at least 20 years. I’ve watched it decay.”

Brady said that he used to have a key to the building, where the pharmacy kept “fixtures.” He said he would come over and throw a switch near the back door and watch all the lights come on.

“Then the roof started going bad and I’ve been afraid to come in,” Brady said. “This is the first thing that’s going to change in downtown in years other than canvas awnings.”

Before the demolition work began, a peek inside showed that much of the interior had been overrun with rusted metal, debris, weeds and trees that had reached what used to be the second floor. All that remained of the roof were a few metal girders and wooden lattice work. Some old metal wall sconces dangled on the bare brick walls.

“When my mother used to give us money to take piano lessons, we’d take the money and go see movies,” 67-year-old Annie Durant said. “We’d watch movies until we thought it was time to go home.”

Because she is black, Durant as a child had to sit in the balcony, leaving the best seats to the whites. She remembered going to the theater when she was a young as 8 years old.

“I would love to see them save it, but it needs to come down,” she said. “It’s gotten to that point.”

James “Rusty” Perry was one of a few people gathered who remembered the building was actually called the Capitol Theater.

“I’m glad it’s finally coming down because it’s sort of an eyesore,” Perry said. “I used to go on Saturday afternoon and see the Western movie, twice.”

The theater opened in the 1930s and closed in 1960, with “Visit to a Small Planet,” which starred Jerry Lewis, ushering it out. The marquee advertising the movie remained for years.

Mayor Charles Kemp spearheaded the effort to have the building removed. He remembered going to the theater, seeing a movie, enjoying snacks and a drink all for less than $1, and then running home after being scared by a werewolf or Frankenstein.

Kemp said the demolition is being paid for with $20,000 in private donations. He said the theater will be replaced by a small park featuring a walkway, trees, flowers, a gazebo, picnic tables and a mural depicting the town’s growth and history.

“The whole point of this is not to demolish the theater, but it’s the beginning of the revitalization of downtown,” Kemp said. “We’re trying to create a lot of visual improvements so the citizens will realize we’re serious about improving downtown.”

The park is expected to be ready in the fall".

kencmcintyre on September 9, 2008 at 10:04 pm

There are some vintage photos on this site:

cccmoviehouses on July 5, 2012 at 10:20 pm

What a shame, it could have been saved at some point with just a litte effort. GWTW.

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