1609 South Boulevard,
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The Dilworth Theater opened in 1939 in the Dilworth neighborhood of south Charlotte. Glenn Grove was its first manager. Newspaper advertisements called it “The Friendly Theater”. In December of 1939 a 20 minute stage show and a drawing to win a Firestone bike were features of Saturday matinees.
The Dilworth Theater was a small, single story theater of Art Deco design. It actually opened as a second run theater, but in the 1940’s it started running new releases and was operated by Paramount Pictures Inc. through their subsidiary H.F. Kincey. In the early-1960’s its run of “Cleopatra” set a record for Charlotte movie attendance. It was broken by the Carolina Theater’s run of “The Sound of Music” several years later.
In the late-1960’s the Dilworth Theater went back to second run movies, serving the inner city community of south Charlotte. It was considered an important centerpiece of the community. In February of 1977 the Rev. James Barrnett and Concerned Black Citizens painted and repaired the theater. People shared fond memories of the movie house with the local newspaper. In the 1970’s the Dilworth Theater ran martial arts movies out of Hong Kong. With the rapidly changing face of the Dilworth neighborhood the old theater seemed to have found its niche. But January 10, 1984, the theater burned to the ground. Arson was suspected.
Dilworth has always been one of Charlotte’s most beautiful neighborhoods. It was home to actor Randolph Scott — his house is located on Dilworth Road. He is buried in Charlotte’s historic Elmwood Cemetary.
The Dilworth Theater was known for its green exterior, and its neighborhood charm. It served as an entertainment venue for south Charlotte residents for almost 50 years. An interior design store and parking lot are located at the address on South Boulevard. Today Dilworth is a neighborhood of condos, bistros, trendy shops, and old city charm. It’s a pity the old movie house didn’t survive. It would fit well in it’s new neighborhood.
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