Athens Theatre

414 Pollock Street,
New Bern, NC 28560

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Opened on April 11, 1911 as the Athens Theatre with 572 seats. By 1941, it had been renamed Show Shop Theatre and by 1943, it was the Kehoe Theatre, a name which lasted until at least 1950. The Tryon Theatre was owned and operated under Charlotte-based Stewart and Everett Theatres until its closing in the late-1970’s.

Since renovations in 1980, it is now operated by the New Bern Civic Theatre.

Contributed by raysson

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 21, 2011 at 6:35 am

Here is a photo of the Athens Theatre taken in 2009.

If this link works (the web site is in Beta and rather temperamental) you’ll see five large thumbnails showing the Athens. They are supposed to enlarge, but I can’t get them to do so. Maybe it’s not compatible with either of my browsers.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 1, 2011 at 5:37 am

The photos at the second link in my previous comment are now enlarging properly, so I guess they worked the bugs out of their program. One of the images is the original floor plan of the theater from the office of architect Herbert W. Simpson.

The official web site gives the address of the Athens Theatre as 414 Pollock Street. The zip code is 28560.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 1, 2011 at 6:20 am

New Bern Civic Theatre is the name of the organization operating this house. The theater itself has returned to its original name, the Athens Theatre.

NightHawk1 on November 30, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Chief Jensen is certainly right about lots of Marines going to this theatre, as it was THE grindhouse/porno theatre for Craven County from about 1974 until its closing in 1979. After the Tryon closed WCTI-TV 12(ABC) filmed scenes of the Tryon’s marquee for use on its Sunday afternoon movie. When New Bern Civic Theatre began using the theatre they originally named the building the Saax Bradbury Playhouse.

NightHawk1 on September 17, 2012 at 11:18 pm

The alternate name “Show Stop Theatre” is incorrect. The correct name was “Show Shop Theatre” which was adopted in the 1930s. The Show Shop Theatre was a B-movie theater, newer releases played at the Masonic Theatre at 532 Hancock Street (that theater is still standing, as it is part of a Masonic lodge). The facade of the Athens/Show Shop Theatre was modernized approximately 1940 and may have been renamed Kehoe at that point. Stewart & Everett took over in 1958 or 1959; they renamed the theater Tryon to capitalize on the Tryon Palace reconstruction which opened in 1959. After the Neuse Village Cinema opened in 1971 the Tryon operated as a grindhouse until closing in 1979 (the last couple of years they ran porn exclusively).

kaykyserkenny on October 9, 2012 at 11:05 pm

Back in the early 1950s, a country & western singing group she was in, The Miss Trio, won a talent show at the Tryon.

kaykyserkenny on October 9, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Oooops! Let me add that I was talking about my mother, who was from Maysville.

NightHawk1 on October 13, 2012 at 3:21 am

I lived in downtown New Bern twenty years ago when the diagonal image of the “restored” facade was painted on the (then) Saax Bradbury Playhouse. I attended a performance of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” at this theater in 1991 and nothing had been done to the facade since the removal of the circa-1940 front and marquee back in the late 1980s. They should have left the modern facade up until they had the funds to fully restore the original Athens facade. Still, at least the New Bern Civic Theatre is still operating; the Turnage Theater in nearby Washington is closed and about to go on the auction block.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on February 24, 2014 at 10:25 am

The Athens Theatre briefly had a tiny Wurlitzer pipe organ. Wurlitzer’s records show a Style 105 Special, opus 1371, 2 manuals, 3 ranks, with a curved console was installed in June 1926, but the organ was moved to a theatre in Maryland in September 1927. The theatre’s website says the hall was equipped for sound pictures in 1929 so the short life of the organ there is something of a mystery.

runusmc on July 6, 2014 at 2:07 am
 I can't believe (but I do accept) that this theatre showed porno and was considered a grindhouse in the mid to late 1970's...I was in the Marines from December 1974 - July 1976 at Cherry Point and NEVER came across this place despite looking for this type of entertainment. In addition, no one ever told me about this joint either.  Almost unbelievable on my part.
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