ADDC organizes campaign to purchase popcorn machine with direct ties to Albemarle’s past
Published 4:11 pm Monday, November 28, 2022
The Albemarle Downtown Development Corporation is organizing a fundraiser to help reclaim a piece of the city’s history.
The organization is looking to secure $3,250 to purchase the original popcorn machine from the old Center Theatre, located on West Main Street in downtown Albemarle. A GoFundMe page has been set up to aid in the efforts. As of Tuesday afternoon, $325 has been raised.
While the former theater is now vacant, with old newspaper articles covering the front, it “was a movie palace when it first opened in 1930” as the Stanly Theatre, Williams said, adding that with its barrel vaulted ceiling in the foyer, white tile fireplace in the lounge and red velvet for the curtains, seats and ropes, it was a “gorgeous piece of architecture.” The theater held 661 people when it opened on Dec. 19, 1930, Williams said.
The Stanly Theatre burned in February 1947, though only the projection room and balcony were damaged. It opened back up a few months later in April.
In 1968, the theater was remodeled and given a “modern face life,” Williams said, as it transitioned from the Stanly Theatre to the Center Theatre, where it remained open for many years. It closed in the 1980s as it could not keep up with the new Eastgate Cinemas. Since then, the building has been used for several purposes, including at least one church and for storage for a furniture company.
Once aware of the situation, Williams called Lisa Williams, the woman trying to sell the machine on behalf of her father, Rodney Barringer, who owns it, about ADDC’s interest in purchasing it. He learned that Williams, who lives in South Carolina, was the granddaughter of Willie Barringer, an electrician who worked for former Albemarle mayor Roger Snyder, who owned The Boardroom Bar and Bistro, the space that is now Tiffany’s At The Boardroom. The popcorn machine was restored shortly before the business opened in 1999.