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Aiken, SC

Princess Theatre

The Princess Theatre is listed in the 1921 edition of the Julius Cahn and Gus Hill Theatrical Guide and Moving Picture Directory. The guide lists Aiken's population in 1921 at 4,103.

Patricia Theatre

The Patricia Theatre is listed in the 1945 edition of Film Daily Yearbook. The listing states that the Patricia Theatre had a capacity of 700 seats.

The Augusta Chronicle – December 15, 1936

Aiken Will Build $100,000 Theatre

Plans for Theatre and Apartment Building Announced by Corporation

H.B. Ram of Aiken, managing director of the State Theatre corporation, operating a group of theatres in the Western South Carolina announced today that work will begin next July on the construction of an up-to-date theatre and apartment building on Laurens Street here.

The new theatre will be located on what is locally known as the Loomis residence property on the 900 block of Laurens Street, which has been recently acquired by Mr. Ram and his associates for the new theatre site. The property has a width of 38 feet, and a depth of 130 feet, and is near the Thomas Dry Cleaning plant and that of the Aiken Coca Cola and Bottling Company.

It is understood that the new building will cost in the neighborhood of $100,000, and the front will contain one store building and the theatre entrance, while the rear will consist of the theatre building proper. The second story of the front of the building will consist of eight modern, up-to-date apartments.

800 Seating Capacity

Under the plans as already drawn by Mr. Ram the new theatre will have a seating capacity of 800, with 600 seats being down stairs, while the balcony will contain 200 seats. The new building and particularly the enlarged seating capacity it is expected will take care of the rapidly growing needs of Aiken for sometime to come.

Information here is that a group of prominent winter residents are connected with the corporation, and that in addition to the new theatre in Aiken improvements will be made to the Batesburg theatre and possibly others under the management of Mr. Ram.

Mr. Ram has operated the State Theatre here, which is municipally owned, for over five years, and during that period has modernized the building and greatly the number of local patrons. He has been exceptionally cooperative with local business and civic organizations, and officials here are extending hearty congratulations to him and his associates on the plan to provide enlarged theatre facilities for this city.

Augusta Chronicle – July 10, 1926

New Movie Theatre to Go Up in Aiken

Aiken is to have a new modern motion picture theatre built by Miss Clara Harrigal, owner of the Aiken Inn, and one of the city’s progressive citizens. Miss Harrigal and contractor J.R. Stokes, of Aiken, who has just completed a modernly equipped filling station on Miss Harrigal’s place, have returned from Batesburg, S.C., to which point they went to secure the plan of a theatre at that place. The new building will be 35 feet by 170 feet iin dimension, and will be built of brick and tile. The theatre will front on Richland Avenue, trial of the Jefferson Davis Highway, and will be centrally located for the patronage of the city as well as country. The building and equipment will cost $10,000, and work will be started on the plant shortly, it is understood.


Aiken Theatre

The Aiken Theatre was operated by Mr. J.H. Welborn in the former opera house. It was above the Aiken Fire Department.

The Augusta Chronicle - March 8, 1922

J.H. Welborn, Augusta Leases Aiken Theatre

A two-year lease for the Aiken Opera House was signed yesterday by J.H.Welborn, of Augusta, who intends to open the theatre at once.

It is said that nothing but high class motion pictures will be shown at the theatre, and the management has promised to secure the same photoplays as shown in Augusta.

The Augusta Chronicle – May 31, 1925

Panic at Theatre in Aiken Averted

What came very nearly being a frightful catastrophe was only narrowly averted by the cool action of a few at the Aiken Theatre last night during the commencement exercises of the Aiken Institute. Contrary to the judgment of many, the Aiken Fire Department is located under the theatre, and at the alarm of fire last night, when White Hall, a winter home was ablaze, the alarm sounding right in the ears of the packed audience, created a panic at once. Nearly every one in the audience jumped to his feet, and several leaped from the lower windows, while many rushed to reach the main entrance amid the cries and shouts of children and guardians.

Finley Henderson, chairman of the school trustees, Supt. McGarity and county superintendent Cecil Seigler, who were on the stage, by shouting an order for calm and the playing of a piano solo by Mary Lucile Howard, one of the graduates did much to restore quiet, though a large number left the audience following the excitement.

It is understood that a move has been placed on foot to have the fire department removed from the theatre building in the fear of a like occurrence or probably a fearful disaster in the future.

The Augusta Chronicle – February 15, 1927

Will Rogers Lecture; Aiken Theatre Packed

The appearance of Will Rogers, the American comedian, was a splendid success Sunday evening at the Aiken Theatre, a two-thousand-five-hundred-dollar house greeting the famous humorist. In the audience were many of the New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago elite, and perhaps no entertainment in Aiken has ever attraced a larger number of Augustans than did that of Rogers. The humorist was presented to the audience by Herbert E. Gyles, who, in the midst of his praise of Rogers was stopped by the humorist, who poked his head from behind the screen and shouted, “That’s enough of that!”

Rogers’ imitation of Mussolini, the Italian dictator, and President Calvin Coolidge were high spots in the “lecture.” The humorist kept his audience in splendid humor for three hours, and it was midnight when the “show” ended. Mayor Frank P. Henderson presented Mr. Rogers with a silver pocket container amidst much merriment. The gift was made by the citizens of Aiken in appreciation of the humorists’ visit, which was donated to the library fund free of all cost.

During his “lecture” Rogers called Herbert E. Gyles “a windy old bird” ran down the stage steps and presented Mrs. Thomas Hitchcock, noted American sportswoman, to the audience, and called on Malcolm Stevenson, one of the great International Four who beat England at polo, to “stand up,” which the well known poloist immediately did amid applause.

Cold type can not give the warmth of the humorist’s side-splitting jokes, but among the best of them were the following:

“An Englishman won’t holler for help until he is introduced!”

“I reside at Beverly Hills, the respectable end of Hollywood, California.”

“I hold the same place in American society as does a congressman; I’m invited to the luncheons but never to the dinners.”

I know what the Queen of Romania came to America for – maybe I’m wrong – but did you ever see a photograph of the king?”

“I’ve decided that the way to settle the cotton price question is for every Klansman to add five inches more to his night gown – the lodge is 120 percent strong in the Southland.”

The humorist said that he was one-third Cherokee Indian and that his people, while they didn’t arrive in America on the Mayflower, they were the “guys” who met the people who landed in the Mayflower and the one great regret of their lives was that they didn’t drown the whole bunch of Pilgrims.”

Residents in the neighborhood of Holliday House, the villa of Mr. F. Skiddy von Stade, state that the roars of laughter poured over the Brooklyn section until 3 a.m. this morning following the “stag supper” given the great American humorist. Will Rogers left for Columbia this afternoon.

The Augusta Chronicle – March 22, 1928

Talking Motion Pictures to Be Shown
at Aiken Theatre Tonight

Talking motion pictures will be shown at the Aiken Theatre tonight only, starting at 9:00 o’clock, and an elaborate program of these wonder films produced by the Fox Film Corp., is announced in the advertising columns of today’s Chronicle. These talking pictures are known as “Movietone Pictures” and are said to be very realistic and lifelike’ the script being timed to the action of the photography and one not only witnesses the life motion of the performance hearing plainly the dialogue of those who one sees on the silver sheet.

The management of the Aiken Theatre states that this is the first time that Movietone Talking pictures have been shown in this part of the south and as they are a newly perfected invention, and quite a novelty to the theatre going public, a capacity house is anticipated for the initial showing tonight. It is also stated that Wm. Fox well known movie producer and President of the Fox Film Corporation will be present in person at the premier showing of the talking pictures.

Tickets will be on sale today at Lairds’ Inc., Aiken, S.C., and the range of prices for admission will be from 75 cents to $2.00, plus tax. Tonight’s program includes the following Movietone subjects; Movietone News Reels, 11-12-13, and 15, “Chic Sale They Are Coming to Get Me,” “Atlantic City Cabaret,” “Winnie Lightner in Shubert’s Serenade,” also “Bombing of Pee Dee River Bridge.”

This performance is being put on for the benefit of the Salvation Army building fund and many people are expected to attend from nearby points.

The Augusta Chronicle - March 11, 1928

The Augusta Chronicle – February 28, 1931

New Theatre for Aiken is Planned
Capt. S.C. Zula May Put Up $30,000 Building

The project for a modern moving picture theatre for Aiken is making progress. Capt. S.S. Zula, who has offered, if city council will agree to discontinue the use of the old opera house building as a theatre, to build and operate a $30,000 house, stating that he has several sites in view and that architects are at work on the plans. As soon as these are completed, he has stated, he hopes to begin work on the theatre, if the council will make this concession.

City council, it appears, looks favorably upon Captain Zula’s proposition, having authorized the mayor to continue the lease of J.H.Welborn, which expires March 1 on the opera house only on a monthly basis, to be terminated at any time. Welborn operates the Aiken Theatre in the opera house building.

The Augusta Chronicle – December 5, 1931

Paxson Asks Lease on Aiken Theatre
Atlanta Man Would Renovate Building

Seeking to lease the Aiken Theatre for ten years, A.H. Paxson, of Atlanta, understood to have had wide experience in the moving picture field, has made a proposal to the city, which owns the building.

Aiken is at present without a theatre, the lease of J.H. Wellborn on the Aiken Theatre having expired last March, and city council accepted the offer of Capt. S.S. Zula, local winter resident, to build a modern moving picture house, granting him an exclusive franchise, provided he began work within nine months from the time this was voted. To date, however, Capt. Zula has made no move to start building.

Mr. Paxson proposes to renovate and remodel the interior of the Aiken Theatre Opera House building, to install new seats and to repair the roof and heating system, and promises to install the latest sound and picture devices and machines used in the larger cities.

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