Clay Theatre

321 E. Main Street,
Clayton, NC 27520

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The Clay Theatre was opened in 1950 with seating listed at 350. Closed around 1959. It was converted into a roller skating rink in the 1960’s.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 12, 2013 at 2:11 pm

I’ve been unable to find a Clay Theatre in Clayton, but I did find a Clayton Theatre, operating in the 1950s at 321 E. Main Street. DocSouth’s Going to the Show lists several theaters at Clayton, but the Clay is not among them, nor is the Clayton, though two are listed as “Name Unknown”. Three are listed as being on Railroad Street, which does not appear on Google Maps. I wonder if Main Street used to be called Railroad Street?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 12, 2013 at 3:38 pm

The Clayton looks like it would have been built in the 1950s. I wonder if it was a replacement for the Clay Theatre, which was about a block east?

Here is a Street View of 419 E. Main Street, since Google Maps insists on fetching a view of E. 2nd Street instead.

The 2nd Street view does show the back of the building, though, if you swing it around to the opposite side of the street from where it is currently fixed. The Clay was awfully narrow for a theater with 350 seats, and they’d have had a hard time squeezing a CinemaScope screen into that space.

tledford on January 3, 2016 at 5:36 am

Joe, the building that currently (as of 1/3/16) houses “Flowers by the Neuse” at 321 E Main was built by my grandfather, M. W. Knott, in 1950, and operated as a cinema until around 1959, at which point (people were beginning to drive into Raleigh for movies) he converted it into a roller-skating rink that operated until 1966 or 1967, at which point he sold the building.

M. W. Knott also managed a theater in Clayton (different building) for about ten years before building The Clay (yes, that was its name at 321 E Main), I’m trying to dig up some more info on that and will post along with some photos later.

tledford on January 3, 2016 at 5:38 am

Note to site maintainers: Is there no way to correct errors other than in a comment? The address of The Clay Theatre was 321 E Main St, not 419.

tledford on January 3, 2016 at 7:17 am

Thanks for the update on the address, PTB! And to Joe et. al., I’m pretty sure that the building at 419 E Main WAS The Clayton Theatre which my grandfather M. W. Knott managed from around 1939 until 1950 when he built The Clay a block away. There was no competition between the two theaters (trying to find the name of the owner of The Clayton, he owned several theaters in North Carolina) because that owner had decided to shut down The Clayton and lease the building out to another business. In 1950, especially with Raleigh only 15 miles to the northwest on US-70, a town of about 3,000 probably couldn’t have supported two theaters.

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