111 W. First Street,
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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.
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