Gem Theatre

111 W. First Street,
Kannapolis, NC 28081

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Gem Theatre

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The Gem Theatre opened for business on December 31, 1936, under the management of Cannon Memorial YMCA. At that time, it had a seating capacity of 1,200; however, it seats about 900 now.

A fire destroyed the back portion of the place in early 1942, but it was soon rebuilt and reopened. The theatre was rebuilt again and had a second grand opening on March 15, 1948, at which time admission was 12 cents for kids and 40 cents for adults.

The theatre is built in Art Deco style, which began in the mid-1920s and continued into the 1940s. Many of the original Art Deco architectural details have survived: the neon sign above the marquee, the decorative chevrons incorporated into the building’s facade, the sconces and the decorative coverings over the theatre speakers. The Gem has been “The Showplace of Kannapolis” for 72 years now.

The price of admission has gone up since 1948, but not much. For movies starting before 6 p.m., admission is $2 a person (any age), and after 6 p.m., admission is adults $4; kids 2 to 12, $2; seniors 55 and older, $2. The box office opens 30 minutes before the scheduled start time of the movie and accepts cash only. Popcorn is $1.25 or $2 for the big bucket, drinks are $1.25, $1.50 and $2 and all candy is 75 cents.

Contributed by Cordelia Anderson, Kenneth B. Walter

Recent comments (view all 76 comments)

kenbob62 on April 21, 2009 at 7:26 am

Yes and there was one other that I don’t have a picture of called the colonel that was on north Main st. that burned down 10years after it closed. It is now a parking lot.

kenbob62 on April 22, 2009 at 5:10 am

The site of the Colonet theater is here

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kenbob62 on April 22, 2009 at 5:53 am

The Gem is my farorite theater I have gone there my whole life and I belive it will be open for a long time.

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kenbob62 on April 22, 2009 at 10:21 am

Here are a few old photos of the Gem from a book I have.

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kenbob62 on April 22, 2009 at 5:20 pm

Also have a picture of the Colonel here

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towelcitycanon on January 10, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Hello, Cinema! Nice to see this site. My hometown, Kannapolis, NC’s Gem Theatre, boasts lots of history and it’s very nice to see others throughout this country and the diversity the offer. I’m a photographer and graphic designer here and try to capture images as often as I can. Please visit, to see my gallery. Thanks!

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 22, 2011 at 5:17 pm

I loved that one-sheet on “OSTERMAN WEEKEND” we played it 1983 I think,so by the time they got it it must have been second run.I wish I would have kept the one-sheet instead of giving it away.Great pictures.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on April 20, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Might have been for small towns,Hope the print was decent.still wish I would have kept that one-sheet.

buffalodavid on March 6, 2012 at 11:51 pm

I was an usher there in the late sixties. The first movie when I worked there was The Dirty Dozen. There were trap doors and hidden passageways everywhere. I’ve been told that the hidden telephone booth is still on the second floor, and is still hidden. I used to change the marquee, and rearrange the letters , just for a few minutes. Then change them back. Once, the movie was , A Man Called Dager. It was supposed to say “ A Secret Agent You’ll Get Stuck On”. For a few minutes it said … You Can Suck On.

Once, we showed “ Nobody’s Perfect” and I put the P in backwards. I got caught, but Clyde, the manager liked it and told me to leave it in.

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