Ambassador Theatre

115 Fayetteville Street,
Raleigh, NC 27601

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Showing 26 - 50 of 61 comments

raysson on April 16, 2012 at 11:28 pm

David Lean’s DOCTOR ZHIVAGO was also a reserved seat engagement at the Ambassador Theatre in mid-1966. In fact,DOCTOR ZHIVAGO replaced the long-running THE SOUND OF MUSIC after it’s astounding 61-week run.

NEXT ATTRACTION: “GRAND PRIX” in 70MM. Speaking of “GRAND PRIX”,if you want to see this in Cinerama,you had to go to the Carolina Theatre in Charlotte to see it in the Cinerama format.

raysson on April 16, 2012 at 11:18 pm

ctrwd: You’re right. The Ambassador Theatre had a widescreen Cinemascope projection. That was installed during the renovation process in 1953 for it’s Eastern North Carolina Premiere of THE ROBE.

The Carolina Theatre in Downtown Charlotte was the ONLY moviehouse in the state that had the Cinerama capability and the only venue where certain films were presented in the Cinerama format.

The seating capacity for the Ambassador Theatre was 1,477. A lot of great films played here…not only did HOW THE WEST WAS WON,and THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM played here but THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, BEN-HUR, EL-CID, CLEOPATRA, and other blockbusters like THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY, and it’s 61-week astounding run of THE SOUND OF MUSIC.

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY played here and was given the exclusive engagement treatment in 70MM and 6 Track Stereophonic Sound in 1969.

canibfrankwithyou on September 15, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Viewed “2001 A SPACE ODDESSEY” 70mm in 1969 prior to flying away for short Navy career!

Ralph Daniel
Ralph Daniel on May 18, 2010 at 4:40 am

I can state the the Ambassador was not a Cinerama theatre, because I was there at the time that “Grimm” and “West” would have been shown in that process. I had to go to Charlotte, which was the only venue in the state to have Cinerama capability.

atmos on March 13, 2010 at 12:06 pm

The architect was Erle G Stillwell.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on December 19, 2009 at 1:08 am

I found a picture i took of the marquee on the Varsity. MCDONALDS was in the space of the marquee.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on December 16, 2009 at 10:19 pm

Hey, is a pity MCDONALDS left. Ithink I took pictures inside the hamburger stand, I remember one sheets framed around the resturant. LECO lights shinning down on the tables.

67imprice on December 16, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Ok, everyone for those interested the former McDonald’s later Hillsborough St. Textbooks was originally the Varsity Theater.
I’ll post photo links (of the bookstore anyway) at the Varsity Theater, Raleigh, NC link here on Cinema Treasures.

67imprice on December 16, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Here is a more current picture of the former movie theatre on Hillsborough St. in Raleigh, across from NCSU campus, that had a McDonald’s restaurant in it back in the 1980’s:

View link

67imprice on December 16, 2009 at 9:37 pm

Yup, there was a McDonald’s restaurant located in a former movie theater on Hillsborough St. facing North Carolina State University.
As I recall the McDonald’s closed and later became a bookstore providing college student’s supplies called Hillsborough St. Textbooks.
Here is a link to a picture of their marquee:

Maybe someone can identify the name of the theater originally. I imagine it is already listed on this site!

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on December 16, 2009 at 9:27 pm

Iwent to a McDONALD’s in Raleigh years ago and i swear the McDONALDS was built in an old Downtown theatre.Does anyone up that way have any info on that old theatre?

67imprice on December 16, 2009 at 8:51 pm

I was present when the Ambassador on Fayetteville St. was torn down in March of 1989. The city of Raleigh was secretly trying to have it demolished and I called up Channel WPTF Channel 28 (at that time they were the NBC affiliate) so they could alert the local Preservation Historic group in Raleigh. But, too late. I still have a video of myself being interviewed on that fateful day.
The news crew met me out there to film the demolition. Can’t believe it has already been 20 years ago since then!

Coate on March 31, 2009 at 8:30 pm

It appears there is some confusion over exactly what is meant by terms such as “roadshow” and “Cinerama.” Raysson: do you have any evidence that the Ambassador (or any theater in Raleigh for that matter) showed movies in Cinerama?

Coate on March 27, 2009 at 6:59 pm

Don’t forget about the most successful roadshow movie ever: “The Sound Of Music,” which had a record-setting 61-week run at the Ambassador.

Patsy on October 2, 2008 at 12:24 am

Cha: I have not eaten at Regas, but have been told about this long established restaurant through Atlanta friends whose daughter lives in Knoxville.

travistarrant on October 1, 2008 at 7:24 pm

According to a map from the Raleigh City Museum I have about Fayetteville St., the Ambassador was located 115 Fayetteville St which would place it one and a half blocks up from where some one mentioned it being at the RBC Building which is located at the 300 block of Fayetteville St. which is also located beside the WTVD Channel 11 Raleigh studios (which was also the old Hudson-Belk Building). The theatre was named the Ambassador in recognition of Josephus Daniels being the ambassador to Mexico at the time.

ChaCha on October 1, 2008 at 3:14 am

Patsy: I remember the one in Raleigh had an upstairs and had round columns with ornate work at the top of the columns. Quite art deco as I remember The Ambassador as being. Have you ever eaten at Regas in Knoxville? Local/authentic/original. It’s still there.

Patsy on October 1, 2008 at 3:03 am

Cha: Funny that you should mention the S&W Cafeteria. I have visited 2 other cities…Knoxville TN and Asheville NC where they “had” S&W Cafeterias. The one in Asheville was very art deco and it’s a shame most or all of these cafeterias are gone now!

ChaCha on October 1, 2008 at 2:44 am

I would love to see any pics of the theatre, outside or especially inside. I remember going with my mother & father & my mother commenting on how women dressed up in downtown Raleigh. Heels, gloves, purses, hats….implying that she was a bit under dressed. I remember going to the S&W cafeteria downtown.

travistarrant on September 30, 2008 at 9:00 pm

Yep. Now when you walk down Fayetteville St. or anywhere around downtown and even wait for a city bus, chances are a homeless person will walk up and ask for money.

Patsy on September 30, 2008 at 8:53 pm

“a haven for the homeless to hide and sleep on the benches until the morning.”

And this is the Capitol of NC?

travistarrant on September 30, 2008 at 8:40 pm

No, the Ambassador was two blocks up from there towards the Capital Bulding. The RBC Tower was once a parking lot and before that in 1994, it was one of the old First Citizens Bank Buildings. The Fayetteville St. Mall was opened up to pedestrian traffic in 1978 and it just didn’t draw enough people to keep most business afloat and at night it became a ghost town and a haven for the homeless to hide and sleep on the benches until the morning.

Patsy on September 30, 2008 at 8:14 pm

raysson: Thanks…next time I find myself in Raleigh I will locate the RBC Center site.

raysson on September 30, 2008 at 8:09 pm

The site of the RBC Center Building now stands where the Ambassador Theatre once stood in Downtown Raleigh along Fayetteville Street.

Patsy on September 16, 2008 at 8:39 pm

“It was demolished about fifteen years ago when Fayetteville Street was turned into a mall.” Too bad it was demolished, but why do that when the street was only being turned into a mall for, I assume, pedestrians? And the building that this theatre was in looked to be of art deco design.