Meroney Theatre

213 S. Main Street,
Salisbury, NC 28144

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Meroney Theatre (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Carmike Cinemas, Piedmont Amusement Co. Inc.

Functions: Live Performances, Live Theater, Performing Arts

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

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 704.633.5471

Nearby Theaters

Meroney Theatre

The Meroney OperaHouse was built in the early-1900’s and had 1,200-seats. Originally it was a playhouse with a tunnel to a hotel across the street. It became a movie theatre 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.

Contributed by Jeff Smith

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

thornhillstuff on April 2, 2009 at 2:52 pm

This theatre has a very long history and a number of name changes. It was the MERONEY, then the STRAND, then the STATE, then the CENTER, then the TOWNE CINEMA, and now is back to the MERONEY.

It opened as a theatre for live performances with motion pictures added in the 1920s, not the 1950s as stated above.

thornhillstuff on April 2, 2009 at 3:03 pm

The CENTER THEATRE of SALISBURY, N.C., had a lot of competition throughout the years. Other downtown theatres of SALISBURY included THE IRIS THEATRE (closed in 1929), THE VICTORY THEATRE (closed ini 1956) and THE CAPITOL THEATRE (closed in 1977). Amazingly, the small neighboring Rowan County towns of LANDIS, CHINA GROVE, SPENCER and ROCKWELL all had their own hardtops as well. DRIVE-IN THEATRES then boomed here in the late 1940s and early 1950s with the opening of THE HITCHING POST DRIVE-IN THEATRE (later named JOE’S DRIVE-IN THEATRE), THE SALISBURY DRIVE-IN THEATRE, and THE 601 DRIVE-IN THEATRE (name changed to THUNDERBIRD DRIVE-IN THEATRE in 1971). THE TERRACE THEATRE opened in TOWNE MALL in 1968. All of these theatres in SALISBURY / ROWAN COUNTY are now gone, except THE MERONEY (CENTER). Sad.

raysson on May 14, 2012 at 10:18 pm

thornhillstuff: There was also THE ROWAN PLAZA TWIN THEATRES that was located on the opposite side of the city off Statesville Boulevard to opened in 1979 as Salisbury’s first twin cinema,and closed in 2000.

The TERRACE THEATRE(located at TOWNE MALL opened on May 28,1969)closed in 1991.

The SALISBURY MALL CINEMAS located at Salisbury Mall off Statesville Boulevard REALLY brought on the competition and muscled it’s way as the town’s first multiplex cinema that opened in 1986. THE TOWNE THEATRE was reduced to a discount house until it closed in 1988(which was under Carmike Cinemas). THE ROWAN PLAZA TWIN became a discount house under Carmike that year until its demise in 2000.

ALL that would change went Cinemark/Premiere Theatres Group built a huge 14 screen megaplex between Innes Street near Interstate 85 that opened in 2001.

ALL of these theatres are located in the greater SALISBURY/ROWAN COUNTY area. As of this writing, The TERRACE, The ROWAN TWIN, are gone leaving the SALISBURY MALL CINEMAS and the TINSELTOWN 14 as the only movie theatres within the entire town. With the exception of THE MERONEY which has been turned into a community theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 30, 2015 at 9:48 am

According to the Meroney’s Theatre page at Doc South’s “Going To the Show,” the building housed a number of theaters over the years. The Meroney Theater building housed different theaters from 1904 to 1989.

“In 1907, the Bijou operated on the first floor of Meroney’s Theater as a movie and live-action theater. September 1909 saw the introduction of the Grand theater to the Meroney building, which was succeeded by the Grubb theater in 1911. The theater also operated under the names of The Colonial, The Strand, The State, Centre, The Towne Theatre, and Towne Twin Cinema (the theater’s name when it officially closed).”
The house returned to its original name on reopening as a live theater in 1995. Additional details about the various theaters can be found by using the drop-down menu of the “Chose a venue” box on the Salisbury page.

SalisburyNC on March 13, 2019 at 7:08 pm

Yes the Meroney is still open, but there are no movies shown there. It is used mostly by the Piedmont Players to portray plays.

rivest266 on January 27, 2024 at 9:31 am

Stopped showing movies in 1930 and reopened as State on May 13th, 1935. Another ad posted.

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