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 19 comments)

NightHawk1 on September 17, 2012 at 8:18 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 8:05 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 8:06 pm

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

NightHawk1 on October 13, 2012 at 12:21 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 7:25 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 5, 2014 at 11:07 pm
 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.
NBmovieman on November 19, 2014 at 12:32 pm

This was operated by the now defunct Stewart & Everett Theater corp from some time in the late 50s until 1979.

After Southgate Cinemas and the Rocking Chair Cinema on Neuse Blvd. were opened, the “Tryon Theatre” mostly played martial arts and blaxploitation films, with X rated late night films on Fridays and Saturdays.

Its last hurrah was a long run of Star Wars after the Rocking Chair Cinema (same owner) was tied down to honoring its contract to Fox to show the forgettable Other Side of Midnight.

With its lease expiring, S&E Cinemas chose not to re-up and removed their equipment. It was purchased sometime later by the New Bern Civic Theater company for live productions.

NBmovieman on November 20, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Illustration of original Athens front.

NightHawk1 on December 2, 2014 at 10:57 pm

This is where “Star Wars” played first-run in New Bern? Apparently the Neuse Village Cinema was still single-screen then, as Fox forced S&E to play a lesser film at the better cinema. That move by Fox sounds like a booking practice that was abolished when the Paramount decree was imposed in 1948.

Patsy on June 9, 2015 at 1:49 pm

New Bern resident and writer, Nicholas Sparks is holding a red carpet event at this theatre in the near future.

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