By the early-1940’s “street car stops” were common in Charlotte. They were found in suburban areas across the city at the end of a line or at a major turn. Such a turn occurred at Central Avenue and a street named the Plaza. Many of the buildings at this “turn”, including an elementary school and the Plaza Theater, were designed by architect M. R. Marsh, of Hawkins-Kibler Associates. The trolly service ended in 1938 but the business district continued to grow for another 15 years.
The Plaza Theater opened September 18, 1941 with “Alice Faye in "That Night in Rio”. Alton B. Carver listed as its manager. In 1956 the first shopping center opened in Charlotte. Shopping centers offered lots of auto parking, and the pedestrian “street car strips” began to decline. The Plaza Theater was a lovely neighborhood theater, but by the 1960’s it was a second run discount movie house.
The Plaza Theatre launching July 15, 1941 with “That Night in Rio” in Charlotte.
Ad from opening night, September 18, 1941.
On June 4, 1975 it became the Plaza Pussycat Theatre and ran X-Rated movies. The first program was “Angel Above - and the Devil Below” & “Miss September”. It was later closed for a while and was then taken over by American Multi-Cinema and operated for a while as a discount house. The neighborhood continued to decline at that time.
The Plaza Theatre projection booth with Century hardware circa 1942.
The Plaza/Midwood neighborhood has made a come back, but it was too late for the old movie house, which was destroyed and a bank (Wells Fargo) now sits on the site.
To read more about other historic Charlotte theaters, click here.
Until next week!
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Information taken from:
CinemaTreasures.org, "Plaza Theater." By Robby (?)
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass