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Cheraw, SC

The Lyric Theater opened on Christmas day in 1920. Built by local pharmacist, Dr. James Ladd, this theater changed names over the years. It was known as the Cheraw Theatre, the Cheraw Cinema, and is now beautifully restored and is called the Theatre on the Green.

When it opened as a silent movie house, it had an open alcove into which a patron entered from the street. In the alcove was a ticket booth. After purchasing a ticket, which cost 11 cents in 1924, one entered the auditorium through double doors. Movies were sometimes accompanied by piano and other times by a record player.

There was no concession stand. Local patrons brought what they wanted to eat. They often purchased snacks from Mr. Ladd's drugstore.


Theatre on the Green
Formerly the Lyric Theatre and Cheraw Theatre

In the summer of 1929, Cheraw audiences were treated to their first "talking picture," at the Lyric Theater. It was MGM's Oscar winning The Broadway Melody. It was cool inside the theater due to the air conditioning system, which consisted of air blown by fans across large blocks of ice on the second floor.

By 1935, ticket prices had climbed to 15 cents. By the beginning of World War II, the admission for an adult reached twenty-five cents. And the theater was known as the Cheraw Theatre.

In the 1930's and 1940's attendees saw a feature, a newsreel, and a short subject. On Saturdays, the feature was followed by an episode from a serial.

To increase attendance on Wednesday nights, prices were lowered and drawings were held.


Lyric Theatre

During World War II, Bob Rogers, who owned the Cheraw Theatre, came up with a very clever idea.. Capitalizing on the large number of people in the area for military training, he opened a bowling alley in a building at the end of Market Street. Behind the bowling alley he installed showers, for which he charged twenty-five cents. On the floor above the bowling alley, he opened the Bowling Theater. The soldiers could bowl, shower and watch a movie. That lasted only a short time.

In the mid-1950's, the popularity of television and the Drive-In signaled the end of the local movie theaters. From that time through the 1980's, the theater changed hands several times. At some point it was renamed the Cheraw Cinema. It closed in 1987.


Cheraw Theatre

The Cheraw Development Corporation bought the building in 1988. Plans were made to raise funding and create a center for the performing arts, a community meeting place, and lecture hall.

Many of the architectural and decorative features of the original building were restored. The plaster mouldings and tin ceilings in the foyer and auditorium were saved.

The first staged event in the Theatre on the Green was performed by Cheraw's amateur dramatic group, On Stage. This opening brought life back into the old theater and mingled with the echos of the audience that attended the opening of the old Lyric Theatre over seventy years earlier.


We wish to thank Sarah Spruill, with the Cheraw Visitors Bureau, for sharing so many materials regarding the theater's history. We could not gather the history of South Carolina's single-screen movie theaters without the generous help of individuals who love to share the stories about their home towns.

 


Cheraw Theatre advertisment - 1951
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