National Theatre

311 S. Elm Street,
Greensboro, NC 27401

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Wilby-Kincey

Styles: Colonial Revival

Nearby Theaters

National Theatre

The National Theatre was located in the heart of downtown Greensboro. It opened on November 28, 1921 with Claire Windsor in “What Do Men Want!”. It had a seating capacity of 1,800. It was taken over by Wilby-Kincey in 1924. The theatre had a mezzanine level and a balcony. It was equipped with a Robert Morton 2 manual 6 ranks organ which was upgraded in 1927 to a Robert Morton 2 manual 28 ranks instrument. During its early days it prided itself on its live shows and vaudeville acts. It also hosted touring productions of some of Broadway’s greatest productions, including Tallulah Bankhead in Noel Coward’s “Private Lives”, Joe E. Brown in the stage version of “Harvey and the original production of "Oklahoma!”, all presented live on the stage. As a movie theatre, it screened some of the greatest films ever to come out of Hollywood.

By the late-1950’s toward the early-1960’s it shifted from A-list movies to B-list movies, with the occasional “Dracula” type film. By 1966, the National Theatre closed forever, and by early-1967 it was demolished and was replaced by a parking lot.

Contributed by Chuck, raysson

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

Patsy on December 1, 2006 at 8:36 am


ENBoyd on August 21, 2008 at 7:25 am

The Robert Morton organ is now installed in the Carolina Civic Center. See For stories on the theatre and pictures of the Center Theatre.

nonsportsnut on October 6, 2009 at 9:17 am

I’m a Three Stooges Fan Club member, trying to confirm a personal appearance by the “3” Stooges (Moe Larry and Shemp), on a bill with Wee Bonnie Baker, the Barretts and Don Hooton, after an appearance by the A.B. Marcus Revue. The movie “Queen of Burlesque” was also shown. I have a display ad, but no dates (or town shown). Believe it was the Summer of 1946, and may have been Shemp’s first appearance after Curly’s strokes. The National was advertised as air cooled and showed a phone number of JA-7863.
Any help will be appreciated.
Thanks Frank Reighter

WilliamSpainhour on January 21, 2010 at 12:49 pm

This was a beautiful old place. Greensboro went on an urban renewal destruction rampage in the Sixties. The National was torn down for a parking lot, but for years you could see steps leading to nowhere at the sites of fine old houses. We can be thankful they saved the Carolina, another movie palace.

Carprog on June 21, 2012 at 8:45 am

Elvis Presley played a live show at the National on Feb. 6, 1956.

Carprog on June 21, 2012 at 9:18 am

Rayson, The Cinema was on Tate St. near (really right at) UNC-G, NOT donwtown. Here’s a pic:

rivest266 on July 30, 2012 at 5:06 pm

This opened on November 28th, 1921. I uploaded its grand opening ad here.

Buddysgrand on September 22, 2012 at 6:16 pm

My grandfather, Lawrence B Richardson aka Buddy was the projectionist here at the National Theatre from late 1920’s to 1940. My grandmother Mildred would also help to run this theater.

raysson on November 26, 2012 at 10:54 am

Elvis Presley’s live show at Greensboro’s National Theatre was a major event on February 6,1956 with 2 matinee performances and 2 evening performances that were basically sold out within minutes of the beginning date.

Ralph Daniel
Ralph Daniel on May 14, 2022 at 2:38 pm

As I remember it when growing up, there were no permanent seats in the boxes; you had to take your own cane-back chair with you! Just visible on the upper left is where the rear-most box joined the mezzanine. Above that was the balcony, which in those days was for “colored” patrons. The projection booth was at the rear of the mezzanine, and situated so low that frequently patrons would cross in front of the projection beam.

I don’t know if the National was ever air-conditioned, but if so, it wasn’t working when I attended during the summer. They had huge fans blowing on the audience, and after a movie you felt like you had “wind burn”.

The organ was a Robert Morton 2/6, upgraded to Robert Morton 2/8 just before the Carolina Theatre opened in 1927 (probably to retain bragging rights to a larger organ).

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