Riviera Theater

225 King Street,
Charleston, SC 29403

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Showing 24 comments

Patsy on April 15, 2023 at 6:32 am

Love the art deco built theatres. My hometown theatre was art deco. To view my exhibit held last summer to honor that theatre go to Facebook. Grand Theatre Westfield NY

Mark on April 14, 2023 at 9:50 pm

Looks very similar to the Earl Smith Strand Theatre also Art-Deco in Marietta GA.

Patsy on January 3, 2011 at 1:57 pm

The “sister” theater to this one is the Rogers Theatre in Shelby NC. Owner, Gary Kulas is restoring it. www.rogerstheatershelby.com

1234 on July 3, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Charles Benton the architect of the Riviera, may have also designed the Strand theater in MArietta GA which opened in 1935, in looking at photographs of both theaters there a numerous details that are basically the same in both theaters, The Strand looks to be an earlier and less costly version of the Riviera.
The Strand has been reopened but it was not a restoration back to the original.

mda38 on February 15, 2009 at 1:19 pm

If you look at the “august 2008” pic, you’ll see a plaque on the left-hand side of the building. It’s about a theater that was on the site earlier, a vaudeville house I believe was called the Academy of Music.

Also, you’ll see a side entrance. That’s where the blacks would enter during the Jim Crow era. I happened to walk by that theater in the early 80s when someone had left the door unlocked. I walked around the empty theater. The Jim Crow box office was still there, along with advertising from the 1950s. The smoking gallery had an intricate pattern rug that appeared to be from the 1930s. I locked up when I left.

The smoking gallery had been closed for years. I used to go there quite often as a child. It was part of a chain called Pastime Amusement Company, which also owned the larger Gloria and the smaller and older Garden. They also had a tiny theater called the Arcade. At one point a church operated out of there, I believe. It was also a rep house in the mid-80s.

meggyb on November 25, 2007 at 8:48 am

I am looking for the documentation of the Riviera Theatre being on the National Register. I do not think that it is individually listed, perhaps it is in the Charleston Historic District. Does anyone have any more information of this?

Also, is anyone familiar with a previous member of the “Friends of the Riviera”?

Patsy on June 24, 2007 at 12:36 pm

What an art deco facade!

Patsy on March 2, 2007 at 6:04 am

Lost Memory: Couldn’t view the photo when clicking on the word HERE.

Patsy on July 25, 2006 at 4:42 am

How did a closeup of that face get to be photographed…from what level or location?

dispar on July 25, 2006 at 4:40 am

I was just in Charleston for SPOLETO (last week of May) and stopped by (while riding my bike) to look at/admire the theater for 30 minutes or so. While I have viewed the facade of this theater for decades (since the late 50s when I began regularly patronizing the theater) I have never seen a closeup of the “face”. Amazing how he can look at something for hours, days, decades and not see everything (kind of like a movie). Thanks for sharing!

Patsy on July 25, 2006 at 4:36 am

Sorry about the duplicate post as I got impatient, again.

Patsy on July 25, 2006 at 4:36 am

I just went back and looked at the face photo and I see the eyes closed so it doesn’t appear, to me, to be looking at anyone or anything.

Patsy on July 25, 2006 at 4:35 am

I just went back and looked at the face photo and I see the eyes closed so it doesn’t appear, to me, to be looking at anyone or anything.

Patsy on July 25, 2006 at 4:34 am

Lost Memory: Timely and very interesting question concerning “the Spirit of Riviera Theater” as I feel that there is a discussion about to take place on the Hollywood/Minneapolis concerning “orbs”.

Patsy on July 25, 2006 at 4:12 am

After viewing the photo on this link with description one can see that that face is high above the marquee and the word RIVIERA.

Patsy on July 25, 2006 at 4:11 am

Lost Memory: I’ve seen this theatre, in person, and have noticed the face above the front facade and marquee.

dispar on December 8, 2005 at 12:07 pm

When was that daylight shot taken (i.e. Lost Memory)? Was the theater being scraped for repainting/restoration or has it deteriorated that badly since my last visit to Charleston?

Great photo though.

Patsy on December 8, 2005 at 7:42 am


dispar on October 5, 2005 at 5:15 am

Being a native Charlestonian, I religiously patronized this theatre from 1958 – 1974. It was always an incredible experience because the Riviera was HUGE (as in # of seats, crowds, and screen).

Two of my greatest memories: seeing WOODSTOCK in 1970 and THE GREAT ESCAPE around 1963. When I ride by the theatre on my bike, the memories flow by me like a cool breeze.

Along with the GLORIA, AMERICAN, & THE GARDEN, the RIVIERA made seeing movies on King Street in downtown Charleston truly memorable experiences.

Thanks for the memories, King Street!

Patsy on February 10, 2005 at 12:12 pm

TC: Thanks so much for this print site as there are several to choose from including the art deco Riviera!

teecee on February 10, 2005 at 11:26 am

You can buy a print of this theater at this link:

Patsy on January 27, 2005 at 6:20 pm

I just today visited this art deco theatre after visiting the Hilton Head Island area and it is a wonderful example of art deco that shouldn’t be missed!