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Various Theatres - Charleston, SC
During our research, we have discovered many Charleston theatres that are now all but forgotten. We wanted to include these theatres and the little we know about them. Some of them were movie theatres. Some were combination houses that showed both live shows and movies. We welcome any information regarding these Charleston theatres. Please email us at info@scmovietheaters.com

Bon Air Theatre
364 King Street

The Bon Air was an open-air theatre in Bon Air Park at 368-372 King Street on the southeast corner of King and Calhoun. It was in operation in 1907. An advertisement in July, 1907, suggested that one "drop in and take a look at Bon Air Park." It offered "Fine Pictures and Expert Operators at the same old prices of 5 cents." While movies were shown, the primary attractions were live performances, illustrated songs, and amateur contests. Fresh air made the outdoor form of entertainment popular. The long summer days and frequent showers in the autumn limited the number of performances each day. Outdoor movie presentations soon disappeared. A variation of the outdoor movie returned in the 1940's with the construction of Charleston's first Drive-In theatres.

 

Uno Theatre
368 King Street (formerly the Bon Air Theatre portion of Bon Air Park)

The Uno Theatre was a small theatre operated by local people that showed mostly two-reel comedies at low prices. The advertisement at the right is for a 1914 Eclair Comedy "Just Kids" billed with a second two-reel French production "Remember" made in 1916.


The Charleston Evening Post - February 23, 1915

 


Colonial Theatre
372 King Street (formerly Bon Air Park, corner of King and Calhoun)

The Colonial Theatre was managed by Mr. W.S. Rivers.


News and Courier - March 29, 1914

Carolina Theatre
399 King Street
Opened: June 17, 1932

The Carolina Theatre was decorated inside and out in a "modernistic" style and had a seating capacity of 400 people. The equipment included an RCA Victor photophone sound system. The owner of the Carolina Theatre was H.B. Cook of Kershaw. Salvatore H. Sottile of Charleston was the manager. In March, 1933, Mr. Cook sold the Carolina Theatre to Charleston Amusement Company. This company was created by Salvatore Santille and Charles L. Mullaly for the single purpose of buying the Carolina Theatre. Admission was ten cents for all parts of the house.

The advertisement at the right shows a double feature at the Caolina Theatre.

Crescent Theatre
617 King Street

Opened: 1913
Closed: 1919

The Crescent Theatre is listed in the 1914 and 1916 Charleston City Directories. John J. Miller is listed in the 1914 directory as president and manager of the Crescent Theatre. Miller also ran the Dixieland Theatre which was almost directly across King Street.

The advertisement at right is from The Charleston Evening Post
September 2, 1913. (Click to Enlarge)

 

 


News and Courier -
November 24, 1932


Dreamland Theatre
220 King Street

The News and Courier of May 30, 1907, states that James Sottile acquired a small theater on the corner of King and Market Streets called the Dreamland.


Fairyland Theatre
348 King Street
Opened: 1908

Closed: 1909

In May, 1908, Edward J. Aylward operated the Fairyland Theatre for African-Americans. It is listed in the City Directory as a "colored" business. The theatre presented moving pictures and held benefit performances for organizations such as the Church Home Orphanage. The Fairyland Theatre closed in 1909 and the Lyric Theatre opened at the location.

Lyric Theatre
348 King Street
Opened: August 16, 1909

Closed: 1926

The building at 348 King Street is a three and one-half story brick building. It was built in 1830 by Margaret Gidiere, a refugee from Santo Domingo. It was a commercial and residential structure, with Mrs. Gidiere's dry goods store on the first level and her family residence above. The building was subsequently a saloon, the Lyric Theatre, a vaudeville and movie theatre, an office and shop arcade, and more recently, a restaurant. According to tradition, the Lyric Theatre introduced Charleston to Burlesque.

New Lyric Theatre
348 King Street
Opened: 1927


News and Courier - 1915
"His ever-piercing eyes were wherever she looked. Glibert Blye saw something in June, the runaway bride that he liked. He followed her and made life miserable for her."


Maceo Theatre
422 King Street
Opened: 1912

The only reference we have found is a notice in the News and Courier dated February 6, 1912, stating that Martha Russell gave a lecture on "How Motion Pictures Are Made." This African American theare had a restaurant located beside it called the Maceo Restuarant. Next to the restaurant, at 424 King Street, was the Maceo Pool Room.

Liberty Theatre
The Maceo Theatre was renamed the Liberty Theatre in 1914 and closed the same year.

Leader Theatre
422 King Street (formerly the Maceo Theatre)


New Theatorium
Opposite 321 King Street (exact address not known)
Opened: c. 1908
Closed: c. 1909

This theatre was owned by George Brantley. The New Theatorium and the Idle Hour were closed shortly after the formation of Pastime Amusement Company in order to reduce competition among the several movie theatres in operation at that time.

 


Orpheum Theatre
424 King Street
Opened:

This period photograph from our collection, is of a stage act. On the front of the photo is written, "Silver Turner and Silver, Orpheum Theatre, Charleston, SC, 1892." On the bottom it says, "Bert Cole, Stage Manager." On the reverse, "Compliments of Tourist Comedy Trio to our little Stage Mgr. Burt Cole. Silver Turner and Silver."

Obviously, a stage house, we're not sure the Oprheum Theatre ever exhibited films.


Photograph on board 6.5" x 5.5"

Airdome Theatre

The Airdome Theatre was opened in Hampton Park with stock attractions for the summer months. Messrs. Gus Smith and Harleston Matthews were the proprietors. The second stage curtain from the Academy of Music was discarded in 1907 and moved to the Airdome Theatre. The curtain had been long familiar to theatre-goers at the Academy. The Poet and Peasant painted on the curtain, showed a young man and young woman in the foreground, a meandering brook nearby and sheep browsing in a verdant meadow.

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