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Green Family Theatres of South Carolina

Many of South Carolina's single screen movie theatres were family businesses.

J.T. Green, III, of St. George, recalled a time when his family operated movie theatres in several towns across South Carolina. "My father owned theatres in Branchville, St. George, Erhardt, and New Ellenton. He had two brothers who owned theatres in Johnston, Williston, Yemassee, and Hardeville. It was my father who started the business and got the family involved."

J.T.'s grandfather, Dr. J.T. Green, Sr. was a physician in Elloree. He had an office in the back of the drug store on Cleveland Street. At the encouragement of his son, Dr. Green opened a small movie theatre upstairs over Hall's "five and dime" store. Later, he built a movie theatre across the street and called it the Playland Theatre.

"Most of the movie places my family owned were drive-ins. We had drive-ins in Erhardt, Yemasse, and Hardeville. The Skyline Drive-in, in New Ellenton, was the first drive-in with a paved black-top parking area. It could hold 300 cars. The drive-in in St. George was destroyed by Hurricane Gracie on September 29, 1959. Ticket sales had been slow anyway because of television so my father didn't bother to rebuild."

"The Edisto Theatre in Branchville was a wood frame building. It had a wood-stove for what little heat was needed. One Halloween, my father organized a "Spook Show" at the theatre. It was a chilly night and the wood-stove was being used. It was throwing out too much light to see the movie so my father told me to go backstage behind the screen where they always kept buckets of water.

I brought a nearly-full bucket and poured some water on the fire in the stove to dowse it a little. The stove hissed and let out a big cloud of steam. It also let out such a foul smell that it cleared the theatre. Someone had peed in the water bucket backstage.

Eventually, the Edisto Theatre was torn down and my father built a two-story brick building with a theatre above and a restaurant below. That theatre never had a name. There was a big sign out in front that said "Theater" above and "Cafe" below."

Telephone interview with J.T. Green, III, August, 2005, by John Coles.

See Green/Greene Family Profile Click Here

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