Blue Bird Theater

1141 Russell Street,
Orangeburg, SC 29115

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Blue Bird Theater

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The Edisto Theater was opened in late-1941, and operated as a movie theatre through to at least 1976.

Now re-named Blue Bird Theater, it is located in downtown Orangeburg and is home to the Orangeburg Part-Time Players acting troupe.

Contributed by Andy

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 21, 2010 at 3:57 am

This page about Orangeburg’s theaters gives the original address of the Edisto as 42 W. Russell Street. Orangeburg has apparently renumbered its lots since the sources the SCMT web site used were published.

The Edisto was operated by J.I. Sims. The various items about the house in Boxoffice are a bit sketchy, and the Edisto might or might not have originally been called the Reliance Theatre. It was to be a replacement for the older Reliance Theatre next door, at (old address) 44 W. Russell Street, which was then being operated by Sims.

Boxoffice of November 30, 1940, said: “J. I. Simms soon to start work on his new Reliance in Orangeburg. The new show will seat 650 and be the last word.”

The February 15, 1941, Boxoffice named a number of theaters at which Wil-Kin Theatre Supply had recently made equipment installations, and the Reliance was among them.

The March 1, 1941, issue of Boxoffice said: “J. I. Sims, who has the Reliance and Carolina in Orangeburg, S.C. has the walls and roof on his new theatre, unnamed as yet. No opening date has been set.” This is the only item in Boxoffice indicating that Sims was already operating a house called the Reliance.

Boxoffice of June 14, 1941, said: “J. I. Sims is planning to open his new theatre in Orangeburg S.C. about the first of July….” If that date was met, then the new theater might have opened as the Reliance, as Boxoffice of November 29, 1941, mentions J.I. Sims as operator of the Carolina and Reliance at Orangeburg. Or perhaps Boxoffice was simply not informed that the new house had been given a different name from that which had been announced earlier.

The earliest mention of the name Edisto in Boxoffice is in the issue of August 7, 1943, which mentions Sims as operator of the Edisto and Carolina theaters. Sims sold the Carolina in 1950, but continued to operate the Edisto until his death in 1957.

The Edisto was still operating as late as 1976, when Boxoffice of November 29 listed it among the numerous North and South Carolina houses then being operated by Martin Theatres. Martin was also operating the Cinema III in Orangeburg at that time.

There was an earlier Bluebird Theatre in Orangeburg, and that house was located at (old address) 49 E. Russell Street, according to South Carolina Movie Theatres. SCMT seems a bit puzzled about the fate of the original Bluebird, but an item in Boxoffice of November 17, 1975, said that Bob Hope had recently visited Orangeburg, where in 1924 he had performed at the Bluebird Theatre. The old Bluebird had been demolished in 1930, this item said. I don’t know how reliable it is, though, as the item doesn’t name a source for the information.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on April 23, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Joe,There was a Bon-Air Drive-in there and the ORANGEBURG Drive-in there along with a theatre called CINEMA III. Any info. I have theatre ads,but that is about all from an old newspaper. I guess the CinemaIII was three screens,even though the ad just had one movie listed.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on April 23, 2010 at 10:36 pm

For the record there was a BLUE BIRD THEATRE CHAIN in the Carolinas.My cousin, Ray Rogers managed one, THE CAROLINA 1 and 2{penthouse}. In Hendersonville.N.C.

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