Liberty Theatre

Orange Street at North Main Street,
Darlington, SC 29532

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LIBERTY Theatre, Darlington, South Carolina in about 1936

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During World War I, Earl Baxter, publisher of the News and Press, leased the Opera House in the Town Hall and opened the Liberty Theatre within. George Hendrickson bought the Liberty Theatre in 1919, and in 1921 Earl Baxter and Bert Prescott opened the Rex Theatre on Pearl Street. That same year a North Carolina chain acquired the lease on the Liberty Theatre and changed the name to the Carolina Theatre. This lasted only a short time, and George Hendrickson resumed operation of the Liberty Theatre. In 1929 a Western Electric sound system was added. Business was brisk, but as the Great Depression lingered, Hendrickson came close to closing the Liberty Theatre several times.

Wilby-Kincey Theatres bought a half-interest in the Liberty Theatre in 1936 and made major changes, advertising “Practically Everything New – Including the Phone Number.” Business improved and by the early-1940’s, holdout crowds were common. In 1948, Sam Irvin bought George Hendrickson’s share of the Liberty Theatre and began construction of the new Darlington Theatre on Pearl Street. The Liberty Theatre seems to have closed by 1965.

Contributed by Lou Rugani

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on September 12, 2012 at 6:32 am

This webpage includes pictures of the Liberty Theater.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on September 12, 2012 at 7:09 am

If one scrolls down to p. 11 on this webpage, a picture of the Opera House before its conversion to the Liberty Theater can be seen. The caption indicates that the building was razed in 1965.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 12, 2012 at 10:10 am

The caption of the photo CSWalczak linked to also says that the architect of the City Hall and Opera House/Liberty Theatre was Frank P. Milburn.

Frank Pierce Milburn also designed a City Hall-Opera House building for Columbia, South Carolina (demolished in 1936) and, as part of the firm of Milburn, Heister & Co., the still-operating Durham Auditorium/Carolina Theatre in Durham, North Carolina.

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