Center Theatre

427 N. Liberty Street,
Winston-Salem, NC 27101

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Paramount Pictures Inc., Piedmont Amusement Co. Inc., Wilby-Kincey

Architects: Willard Close Northup

Previous Names: New Liberty Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Broadway Theatre, Colonial Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Center Theatre

The New Liberty Theatre was opened with vaudeville on September 11, 1911. In 1915 it was renamed Paramount Theatre. On May 27, 1918 it became the Broadway Theatre screening Mary Pickford in “Stella Maris”. It retained that name until February 7, 1926 when it was renamed Colonial Theatre. In 1940 it was operated by the Paramount-Wilby-Kincey Circuit. Still operating in the 1950’s. By 1961 it had been renamed Center Theater and was operated by Statesville Theatre Corp. as a second-run discount house until around 1969.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

Arby on September 25, 2013 at 10:34 am

The marquee of the Colonial always looked like the photo in the initial entry by Lost Memory. The Center was a different theater. I remember it having a smaller wedge marquee with lettering in a moderne-ish style. And I am pretty sure it was on the other side of Liberty Street but maybe in the next block.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 25, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Arby, did you see this photo I linked to in an earlier comment? It shows the Colonial building in late 1960, and there is an angled marquee, quite different from the one in lostmemory’s 1954 photo. It looks like the name of the theater is on the narrow front of the marquee, but for me the angle makes it unreadable, so I don’t know if it says Colonial or not. You might recognize it, though.

ThePossum on May 23, 2016 at 4:38 pm

The Broadway and the Hollywood were in the same building which was lost in a fire around 1950-53. The building was toward the south end of the block (on the east side) near where the Google photo is positioned. The Colonial and Center were also in the same building which was in the center of the block. That building was torn down in 1972-3 for the Liberty-Main parking structure which (unfortunately) still stands. The State Theater was a c.1919 rebuild of the 1903 Elks Auditorium which burned. It stood at the north end of the block and became State Furniture in its last years. It. too was demolished for the parking deck.

The city bus station was built on the north end of the block on the WEST side of Liberty in 1995. It replaced buildings constructed between 1883 and 1914, none of which were theaters.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 23, 2016 at 7:25 pm

ThePossum: If you check my first comment on the Cinema Treasures page for the Hollywood Theatre you’ll find links to sources that document the history of the theater at 411 N. Liberty Street as having been the Elmont Theatre from 1912 until 1927, the Ideal Theatre from 1927 to 1934, and the Hollywood Theatre from 1934 until its destruction by fire in 1948.

I still suspect that the Broadway, listed at 429 Liberty in the 1926 theater list I posted earlier, was the predecessor of the Colonial, at 427 Liberty. The only thing I haven’t been able to discover is if the Broadway was simply remodeled to become the Colonial or if it was demolished and replaced by a new building for the Colonial.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 24, 2016 at 1:59 am

DocSouth’s “Going to the Show” lists the Liberty Theatre at the address 427-429 North Liberty from 1912 to 1915. It lists the Paramount Theatre at 429 N. Liberty from 1916 to 1919 (I’ve found the Paramount mentioned in the local newspapers in 1915.) It then lists the Broadway Theatre at 429 N. Liberty from 1920 to 1926 (there’s an ad for the Broadway, dating from early 1919, displayed on this web page.)

It seems increasingly likely that the Liberty/Paramount/Broadway Theatre was the same house that became the Colonial and finally the Center. An article about the new Liberty Theatre, then under construction, appeared in the February 25, 1911, issue of the Winston-Salem Journal. The house was to have over 900 seats, with 510 on the main floor, more than 300 in the balcony, and 100 seats in boxes. The project had been designed by a local architect, Willard Close Northup.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 25, 2022 at 1:14 am

A July 7, 2013 article in the Winston-Salem Journal said that the New Liberty Theatre opened on September 11, 1911. Here is a quote from their opening day advertisement: “We are going to book only the best talent to be had in Vaudeville, and promise the mothers and other good people of the city that they may come to this theater without hesitancy; there will be nothing permitted to cause you to regret you came.”

rivest266 on February 16, 2023 at 1:37 pm

History at

rivest266 on March 23, 2023 at 4:19 pm

Reopened as Forsyth on September 27th, 1923 and Colonial on February 8th, 1926. Ad posted. Colonial Theatre openingColonial Theatre opening 07 Feb 1926, Sun Winston-Salem Journal (Winston-Salem, North Carolina)

rivest266 on March 23, 2023 at 4:21 pm

Grand opening ad posted.

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