213 S. Main Street,
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Meroney Theatre (Official)
Previously operated by: Carmike Cinemas
Styles: Streamline Moderne
Previous Names: Meroney Opera House, Bijou Theatre, Grand Theatre, Grubb Theatre, Colonial Theatre, Strand Theatre, State Theatre, Center Theatre, Towne Theatre, Towne Twin Cinemas
The Meroney OperaHouse was built in the early-1900’s. Originally it was a playhouse with a tunnel to a hotel across the street. It became a movie theater from the 1920’s. It was a simple yet elegant movie house with a large balcony.
It prospered throughout the 1970’s, showing first-run features and late shows. I saw “Jaws” there when it came out in the 1970’s. In the early-1980’s, it was twinned and renamed Towne Cinemas. The balcony was closed off and turned into a very cramped uncomfortable second theatre.
I worked there as a projectionist when it was a first-run theatre in the mid-1980’s. As weekend downtown traffic decreased due to a local ordinance banning late-night automobile “cruising” by teenagers, the theatre fell on hard times. It became a dollar house for a few years and then closed in 1988.
It sat in disrepair for a number of years until it was completely renovated into a performing arts house. It is supposed to look now exactly like it did in the 1900’s when it first opened. When I worked there in the 1980’s, many of the original props and backdrops from 1920’s were still in the theatre, along with movie posters and signs from the 1950’s and 1960’s. There is a lot of history in this simple downtown theatre.
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