Playhouse Theatre

151 E. Broad Street,
Statesville, NC 28677

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 7, 2023 at 5:08 am

The current opening line of the description is inaccurate. Construction of the Playhouse began in 1926 and the theater opened on February 19, 1927. Although the opening attraction at the fully-equipped house was a stage play, the theater was also equipped to show movies from the beginning, and was one of the four houses listed at Statesville in the 1928 FDY.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 24, 2012 at 11:54 am

The January 11, 1927, issue of The Film Daily said that Carolina Theatres, Inc., planned to open two new houses that month; an unnamed theater at Elizabeth City and the Playhouse at Statesville, which would begin operation on January 29. This web page about theaters in Statesville indicates that they missed their target date, and that the Playhouse opened on February 19, 1927.

The Playhouse opened with a musical review, George White’s Scandals. As the first movie in that series was made in 1934, this had to have been a road company of the stage production. The last movie shown at the Playhouse, The Soggy Bottom Gang, closed on March 7, 1982. Demolition took place in April, 1983.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 22, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Rmc yes, and it was in a stone’s throw off I-77.I took pictures long after everything was stripped.Thanks Steve.

Thomas2 on March 29, 2010 at 8:08 pm

You can use this map for location:

View link

Scroll downtown. You can also see where the State Theater was located. You can note other places on the map if you like. That would help grow the value of the map.

lumierefl on July 19, 2009 at 7:17 am

I did some shooting in Statesville last year and just posted a photo that contains what is said to have been the Crescent Theater. It’s now a jewelry store, second shop from the right.

View link

thornhillstuff on April 1, 2009 at 1:09 pm

There was also the I-77 DRIVE-IN THEATER in Statesville. It opened in the early 1970s. (Difficult to believe anyone would build a drive-in that late.)

thornhillstuff on April 1, 2009 at 1:06 pm

The STATE THEATRE in STATESVILLE, N.C., opened in 1940 and closed April 23, 1961. The final feature shown was THE MILLIONAIRESS starring Sophia Loren and Peter Sellers. The site was taken over by an expansion of SPAINHOURS and THREE SISTERS DRESS SHOP.

There was also the CRESCENT THEATRE in downtown Statesville from the mid-1920s until early 1950s.

My family owned and operated the two drive-theaters. VILLA HEIGHTS opened in 1948. We operated it until 1960, when we leased it to STATESVILLE THEATRE. HILLCREST opened in 1949. We closed it in 1959.

angley on January 25, 2009 at 10:57 am

Just was rereading some of this thread. The theatre that was on S. Center Street between E. Front and E. Broad was the State. I can remember that you could go upstairs and look through a window at the projectors.

An expansion of the Spainhour’s store in the mid-60s occupied that space.

Thomas2 on June 18, 2008 at 6:31 am

The following is information that I discovered in the Statesville Daily Record, The Landmark, the Statesville Record, and the Statesville Record and Landmark. (I should keep better notes) This is a great place to put it.

Villa Heights Drive-in Theatre
Hickory Highway Dial 5038

Hillcrest Drive-in
Salisbury Road Dial 5878

Roxie Theatre Troutman, NC

Center Theater (Harmony, NC)
Jan 6, 1949 prices 9cents 20cents quarter

Playhouse March 8, 1954
Adults 1-2 40cents 2-6 50cents Evening 60cents
Children Mat 20cents Nite 25cents

angley on March 23, 2008 at 5:56 pm

Was good to see comments from descendants of the Stearns. I actually grew up in a home that I was told was the model home for one of their developments on Reynolda Drive in Statesville.

I was going to post a photo of the Playhouse (taken from the March 1982 Record & Landmark article on the closing of the Playhouse’s last days), but the photo feature isn’t working.

I would really like to hear from others that worked at the Playhouse, as I did from 1970-1974.

Kevin Angley
Raleigh, NC

Patsy on March 11, 2008 at 6:26 pm

And it has some historically beautiful homes. One of them was on a recent holiday house tour.

Thomas2 on March 11, 2008 at 4:27 pm

Hi Patsy,

We lived in Statesville from about June 1958 to summer 1965. Friends worked as ushers at the theaters and my best friend worked at the drive in one summer. There was putt-putt near J.C.’s Toot-n-Tellum, Bowling, Grace Park Rec Center, two newsstands and the old library. It was such a good city.

Patsy on March 11, 2008 at 3:10 pm

Thoms2: Interesting to read in your Dec. 6 2007 post that Statesville had a Woolworth’s as so many towns did years ago. Perhaps “JFP in NC” can give us the name of that other theatre “on S. Central between E. Broad and E. Front”.

Patsy on March 11, 2008 at 3:07 pm

Any additional interior photos of the Playhouse Theatre?

Patsy on March 11, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Yes, the Playhouse photos are very interesting and to think that Statesville demolished that building for a bank that ended up being abandoned is totally beyond words!

Thomas2 on March 11, 2008 at 2:55 pm

Hi Mr Pankow,

Thank you so much for the links to the Playhouse photos. Very much appreciated.

JohnFieldPankow on March 11, 2008 at 6:54 am

The Stearns Building/Playhouse theatre, was built by my grandmother’s older brothers, Carrold Adam “Jack” Stearns (1892-1950) and Clyde Casey Stearns (1895-1969). Their father Dulin Benson Stearns (1863-1962) brought his family from Charlotte to Statesville in 1916, and the Stearns brothers contributed greatly to the development of the town in the 1920s. Both of them attended the Baird School in Charlotte and Trinity College (now Duke University) and Clyde served in both World Wars. They built many of the roads in the area, the Statesville Country Club, and developed several residential areas. They also owned a furniture factory. C. A. Stearns built a palatial summer home at Round Mountain near North Wilkesboro. Unfortunately, pretty much all of this disappeared after the Stock Market Crash of 1929, and the subsequent Depression of the early 1930s.

Photographs of the building, exterior and interior, can be found at the HABS (Historical American Buildings Survey) web site of the Library of Congress at:

View link

It is mislabeled there as the “Sterns” building. I wrote them back in November to explain the mistake, and was told that they would correct it, but it doesn’t seem to have been corrected. Back in the early 1980s (when I was still in high school), a group of people got together to try to save the building from demolition; but unfortunately, their efforts were unsuccessful. Memorials to the Stearns brothers can be found at the “Find A Grave” web site at:

Carrold: View link

Clyde: View link

If those links don’t work, go to, and type the names in the search box.

Best Regards,

John Field Pankow
Asheville, NC

Patsy on December 8, 2007 at 6:12 pm

Would love to see a photo(s) of this former Statesville NC theatre. I recently visited the town and wondered if there had been a theatre…Broad Street is the town’s “main street”.

Thomas2 on December 6, 2007 at 8:20 am

Photos would be appreciated.

I remember a ‘gangster’ movie was playing and management had an old vehicle parked out front with the rear window knocked out and a toy Tommy-gun sticking out.

On some Saturdays kids would go on stage for contests and such. My brother won a Bola-Bola contest. He kept his going for the longest time. I did win a few free passes from a local radio station.

There was another Theater that was on S. Central between E. Broad and E. Front but I can’t remember that name. It was down from Woolworth’s.