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Milo Theatre - Charleston, SC

Milo Theatre
566 King Street
Opened: 1921
Closed: 1923

A good history of the Milo Theatre can be found in "Addenda to my Article of May 10, 11, 1958" by Albert Sottile. This document was written by him to clarify and add to an article to be published in The Charleston Evening Post and the News and Courier regarding a history of Pastime Amusement Company. Mr. Sottile wrote:

John J. Miller, who formerly, (about 1915-20) had operated a burlesque show place for colored people - King Street above Columbus Street, I believe - bought the property where the Palace Theatre was built - copied the design of our Victoria Theatre - borrowed money on a first mortgage from the South Carolina Loan and Trust Company, to build with - but ran out of money when half through.

Being a friend of my Brother Santo - he requested Santo to talk to me and to help him financially.

Upon discussing the matter with Miller, he said that he needed $35,000, to finish the building - that Don and Frank Towles - prominent Johns Island farmers, had agreed to lend him $25,000 of it, provided I would join in with them with the remaining $10,000.

The group met - we agreed to put up the $10,000 and secured a second mortgage for the $35,000 - I was to supervise payment of the loan.

Miller finished the theatre (Milo Theatre) - opened it for colored patronage - stage and screen shows - soon went broke - First mortgage was foreclosed - we dropped out $35,000, as we didn't want any part of operating the theater.

Various parties leased the theatre - among them Miss Maude Gibbon, for the Charleston Philharmonic Society - called it the Charleston Theatre - the effort went broke.

Sims of Orangeburg tried to run it - also Cook from Walterboro - all fizzled out.

I was then approached by Louis Fischer, Trustee of the now defunct South Carolina Loan and Trust Company.

He begged me to help him get some income from the place, so we leased if for five years, at $200 a month - hoping to do something with the place - but the depression was on and we kept it closed until the lease was up.

We then called in Mr. Basil Kerr, who was operating the Elco Theatre and offered to let him have the theatre at the same rental and gave him an option to buy it, which we had from Louis Fischer.

Mr. Kerr bought the property, including three small houses on Columbus Street, for less than $30,000.

He closed up the Elco as a theatre, (this was his own building) and ran the Palace Theatre for many years profitably - our relations were always most friendly.

On February 19, 1921, The Chicago Defender stated, "The Milo Theatre presented a very clever vaudeville bill, including Young & Young and Kensey & Reese." The newspaper article noted that, "Mr. J.J. Miller, the proprietor, and Mr. L.C. Jervey, the manager, are very pleased with the acts."

In 1923, John J. Miller closed the Milo Theatre. He and his family left Charleston and the theatre business. They moved to Tampa, Florida.


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