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Ashley Theatre - Charleston, SC
Ashley Theatre, Charleston, SC

Ashley Theatre
Highway 17 at Highway 61
Opened: February 20, 1950
Now: A women's consignment store. Many features remain including sloping auditorium floor.

The Ashley Theatre was built by Pastime Amusement Company to serve St. Andrews Parish. It was the last theater built by Pastime.

Chuck Cromer, of Charleston, wrote us that he remembers the Ashley Theatre well and the Saturday afternoons he spent there in his childhood.

“This single screen theatre was my hangout as a kid since it was within walking distance of my home. I grew up in the Westwood neighborhood which is between Avondale and Moreland. My buddies and I would stop by Stephen’s Candy Store, just around the corner, and load up before going to the movies. I can still remember getting two caramels for a penny. We saw such pictures as Sampson and Delilah, Gone With the Wind, and William Castle’s 13 Ghosts with those classic glasses so you could see the ghosts.”

Chuck West, a friend who now lives in Texas, wrote us regarding the Ashley Theatre.

“I do remember an experience at the Ashley Theatre in St. Andrews Parish. A friend and I rode our bicycles down to the theater to see a Frankenstein movie one afternoon. It was early evening when the movie let out— just starting to get dark. The perfect light to hide spooks in the shadows, but enough to allow us to see the glint in their yellow-green eyes. I don’t think I had ever peddled my bike as fast as I did that evening. Luckily, we made it home without an encounter with Dr. Frankensteins creation.”

At this time, the Ashley Theatre is a women’s consignment store. The ticket booth is still there as is the lobby. The auditorium floor slopes toward the stage. The small stage with its tidy proscenium is there with two sets of footlights that fold into the floor. The small window used by the projectionist is there and still works.

On either side of the stage are doors. One leads onto the stage. The one on the right side of the house leads down to a service area. The original load-in double doors used to bring any needed stage scenery or equipment into the building are still in place.

From The Evening Post, Charleston, SC, February 18, 1950

"• • • The Ashley Theatre offers a modest seating capacity, sufficient we believe to take care of the present patronage. It is equipped with standard projection and sound systems - modern theatre seats have been installed - a heating plant that introduces moisture and fresh air, well filtered, will keep the theatre comfortably warm in winter - an air conditioning plant will maintain temperature at a refreshing degree during the summer - a sprinkler system, a safeguard against fire, has already been completed - concrete floors and masonry walls add up for additional fire protection - a small size stage has been provided and on occasions, amateur contests or small size stage shows my be presented.

• • • The initial policy calls for the presentation of four different programs each week - two day programs will be offered on Mondays and Tuesdays and on Thursdays and Fridays- one day programs on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

• • • Theatre will open at 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, with a 2 p.m. opening for Saturdays and Sundays - performances will be continuous.

• • • A parking lot, with a capacity of approximately 150 cars, surrounds the theatre on three sides - the us of this lot will be free to theatre patrons.

• • • The management will gladly cooperate with any civic organization in St. Andrews Parish, that may wish to make use of the theatre at other hours of the day, when it is not in regular operation.

• • • The erection of the Ashley Theatre would have taken place several years ago - but for the ban placed by the government on theatre construction, which was extended far beyond the actual emergency period.

• • • A further delay was caused when a change of architects was considered advisable and in this connection, we take the opportunity of commending Mr. Augustus E. Constantine, local architect, for the nice layout that he has given us - also to express our sincere thanks to the different contractors and craftsmen, who contributed their skill diligently in various ways, in making the Ashley Theatre a cozy and attractive little playhouse."

Reference Materials:

"Announcing the opeinging of the Ashley Theatre"
The Evening Post, Charleston, SC - February 18, 1950

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