Monday, October 27, 2014

Using City Directories: Concord's Motion Picture Theaters

Mentioned in the book "Stroke of Fortune" by William C. Cline, the Paramount Theatre in Concord, N.C. was the place to see action serials of the day. It is the current location of the Main Street Mall (Gifts & Garden by Angela and the new Mekong Thai Restaurant). Tex Ritter, the singing cowboy, was a regular visitor, dropping by to say "howdy" to his Concord friends at the Paramount Theatre anytime he was booked nearby. Concord saw a large selection of traveling actors of the 1940’s from the Kemp Circuit out of Charlotte. Photo c. 1938, Mike Rogers, cinematreasures.org.
City directories are a useful resource for understanding what leisure entertainment your Cabarrus ancestors may have enjoyed. The 1920 Concord City Directory lists three businesses as "Theaters and Places of Amusement:" The New Piedmont Theatre, located at 10 South Union Street; the Pastime Theatre, located at 22 South Union Street; and the Star Theatre, located at 3 North Union Street.

The Star advertisement, featured along the bottom pages of the directory, lures customers to "Visit the STAR Theatre, Concord's Newest Theatre, Headquarters for High Class Motion Pictures, Opposite the St. Cloud Hotel" (now Hotel Concord).

Charles M. Isenhour managed the new Piedmont; W. E. Stewart was proprietor of the Pastime; and B. L. Means and L. L. Wallace oversaw the running of the Star.

By 1930, there is a new theatre listed in the city directory, the Concord Theatre, located at 11 North Union, and the New Piedmont has disappeared from the listings.

The 1940 directory shows four Concord theatres. The Cabarrus Theatre, located at 22 North Union Street, is the newest addition to Concord. Operating at 11 North Union Street is the Paramount Theatre and at 3 North union Street is the State Theatre. The Pastime Theatre is still on South Union Street, although the street address has been changed from 22 to 26.

William C. Cline in 1945.
Concord native William C. Cline took over as assistant manager of the Cabarrus Theatre in the late 1940s. His book, "Stroke of Fortune: the Adventures of a Motion Picture Showman," published in 1995, recounts his early years in Concord and a lifelong love of motion pictures. Cline worked in the theatre business all his life, and his autobiography includes photographs of many actors and motion picture marquees taken from Concord's earlier theatre days.

A terrific website to see photos and get information about theaters old and new is cinematreasures.org. Just put in the name of the city and a listing will appear. William Cline's books are available through the Cabarrus County Library system and the City Directories are available at the Concord Library, Lore History Room.

Courtesy of the Concord Library, Lore History Room and cinematreasures.org



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