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Palace Theatre - Charleston, SC

Photo supplied by Francis B. Kerr, Jr.

Palace Theatre
566 King Street
Opened: 1931
Closed: 1957
Torn Down: 1968

Basil Kerr opened the Palace Theatre in 1931. When it opened, the Palace was a combination house showing both stage shows and motion pictures.

Francis Kerr, son of Basil Kerr, recalled working there. He related, "During the Depression years, people found it cheaper to spend hours in the theatre than to go home and heat their homes. So,in actuality, we were their home away from home."

The Mayor From Hell (1933) with James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart broke daily attendance records of 5,000 plus. Among live acts that played the Palace was Jam Up and Honey. Honey Wilds formed this duo in 1940. They toured doing black-face to white audiences during a period of segregation.

Cowboy movies became a staple at the Palace. Cowboy stars including Tex Ritter, Johnny Mack Brown, and Fuzzy Q. Jones appeared in person. Even Cheetah, Tarzan's companion, made an appearance at the Palace to the delight of children.

An annual event was the Palace Kiddies Christmas Party with children from three orphanages as special guests at no cost. The doors opened at 9 a.m. with candy, gifts, and popcorn. Reel after reel of comedies were shown.

The Palace was always known as a "family" theatre. While Hollywood was designing "Cinemascope" in 1955, the Kerrs came out with their own three-dimensional screen, which they patented.

Television and the popularity of Drive-In theatres made the operation of the Palace Theatre unprofitable and it was closed in 1957. The theatre was torn down in 1968.


Photo supplied by Francis B. Kerr, Jr.
Click Here or on image to see larger view

Next to the Palace Theater was
the Palace Sweet Shop.
It was also accessible from the theater lobby.

The House of Horrors (1946) was so frightening that some people ran from the theater to the police station because they thought a man's head had been cut off. Police cars sped to the Palace to investigate the "murder."

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