THE OLD COLUMBIA THEATER -- By Jimmy Fleming mrflemz@embarqmail.com




I forget the first time I went to the movies at the Columbia theater.
It was probably the late fifties’ or early sixties’ and I might have
been 7 or 8 years old. I do remember that I thought it was the
greatest place I had ever been to. Mr. Jessie Spencer and his
wife Mrs. Wilma ran the theater and Mr. Dick Weatherly was the
projectionist. I don’t remember who the popcorn boy was at the
time, but I remember thinking that there wasn’t a better job in the
whole world . All the free popcorn you could eat, free movies,
and having everyone envy you were very good benefits. I believe
it cost a quarter to get in and then drinks and popcorn were 10
cents while candy was a nickel. The old candy case was a favorite
spot for me. I loved those caramel things with the confectionery
sugar centers, cracker jacks, Boston baked beans, and of course
Baby Ruth’s. I enjoyed many Saturday afternoons watching
westerns and horror movies. It was a time when all movies were
rated G and the hottest scene in the theater was in a dark corner
of the back row where the teenagers were necking. Going to the
movies at the Columbia Theater are some of the best memories I
have and worth every hard earned quarter that my folks paid out
. It was a sad day for Columbia when the last movie was shown
and the doors were locked for the last time. The original Columbia
Theater was built by a German immigrant named Fred Schlez
about 1938. It attracted movie audiences from all over the Albemarle
area in its hay day. Sadly, as things
changed in neighboring areas, the theater
closed in the late 1960s, and the building remained vacant
for almost 30 years. In 1995, the Partnership for The Sounds
purchased the building and began the huge project to restore the
crumbling facade to its glory days. The Columbia Theater Cultural
Resources Center opened in 1998 and is a proud part of Main
Street in downtown Columbia today. Visitors can explore exhibits
of environmental and cultural history dedicated to the local
Albemarle estuary habitats, and the effects of development on the
region. You will find a variety of antiques and other local treasures
that give insight into Columbia’s rich but mostly unknown past.
Visitors will find household items, business, fishing and farming
equipment, a gift shop, and even a bit of theater history saved
from the old building. The Columbia Theater Cultural Resources
Center is the perfect spot for area newcomers, school groups,
history lovers, wildlife fans, and anyone passing through who
would like to discover what rural life has been like in this part of
the Albemarle area over the past 100 or so years. To find out more
info about the museum or to arrange a group tour, you can check
out these web sites: http://pfsestuarium.inapp.mobi/ or http://www.
albemarle-nc.com/
THE OLD COLUMBIA THEATER -- By Jimmy Fleming mrflemz@embarqmail.com THE OLD COLUMBIA THEATER -- By Jimmy Fleming mrflemz@embarqmail.com Reviewed by kensunm on 7:00:00 PM Rating: 5

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