1609 South Boulevard,
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Architects: Erle G. Stillwell
Styles: Art Deco
The Dilworth Theatre opened on July 15, 1939 with Gary Cooper in “The Cowboy & the Lady”. Located in the Dilworth neighborhood of south Charlotte it was operated by North Carolina Theaters, a subsidiary of Publix. Glenn Grove was its first manager. Newspaper advertisements called it “The Friendly Theatre”. In December of 1939 a 20 minute stage show and a drawing to win a Firestone bike were features of Saturday matinees.
The Dilworth Theatre was a small, single story theatre of Art Deco design. It actually opened as a second run theatre, but in the 1940’s it started running new releases and was operated by Paramount Pictures Inc. through their subsidiary H.F. Kincey. In the early-1960’s its run of “Cleopatra” set a record for Charlotte movie attendance. It was broken by the Carolina Theater’s run of “The Sound of Music” several years later.
In the late-1960’s the Dilworth Theatre went back to second run movies, serving the inner city community of south Charlotte. It was considered an important centerpiece of the community. In February of 1977 the Rev. James Barrnett and Concerned Black Citizens painted and repaired the theatre. People shared fond memories of the movie house with the local newspaper. In the 1970’s the Dilworth Theatre ran martial arts movies out of Hong Kong. With the rapidly changing face of the Dilworth neighborhood the old theatre seemed to have found its niche. But January 10, 1984, the theatre burned to the ground. Arson was suspected.
Dilworth has always been one of Charlotte’s most beautiful neighborhoods. It was home to actor Randolph Scott – his house is located on Dilworth Road. He is buried in Charlotte’s historic Elmwood Cemetary.
The Dilworth Theatre was known for its green exterior, and its neighborhood charm. It served as an entertainment venue for south Charlotte residents for almost 50 years. An interior design store and parking lot are located at the address on South Boulevard. Today Dilworth is a neighborhood of condos, bistros, trendy shops, and old city charm. It’s a pity the old movie house didn’t survive. It would fit well in it’s new neighborhood.
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