Swanee Theater gets new marquee with old name – Reuters
KANNAPOLIS — The Swanee Theatre, built in 1940 as one of four cinemas in Kannapolis, is well on its way to a new life as an entertainment venue, but the name remains the same.
This week, the new owners of West Avenue Entertainment, LLC saw the new marquee, complete with the original name, put in place.
The Swanee Theatre, originally a single-screen movie theatre, was one of the first in the area to show R-rated films, according to the establishment’s history. The cinema offered “women only” and “men only” movie times, and ticket prices were geared towards families, which meant they were affordable even for families living on one income and raising children. .
The theater remained open as a movie theater until 1971 and over the years has served as a visitor center and labor training center for Rowan-Cabarrus Community College before becoming vacant for several years.
The theater was first purchased by the City of Kannapolis as part of its downtown revitalization program in 2015, then in 2021 the city sold it to West Avenue Entertainment, which plans to reopen the facility as a venue for musical performances and special events.
According to Macy Burleyson, wedding planner and events coordinator for the new venue, the theater has been “completely gutted, then rebuilt” with as many nods to its history as possible. She noted that the building can accommodate 600 people at a standing event, such as a concert, 400 at a seated event without tables, and 300 for a seated event such as a wedding where tables would be needed.
November 1 is the official opening date, which she says will include an open house, music and the public will be invited.
“We know a lot of people remember coming to see movies here when they were kids or when they were younger,” she said. “Many local businesses in the area were incredibly supportive when the theater opened, and we hope to rebuild that relationship.”
The venue will have its first private event on September 7. The North Carolina Visitors Bureau invites guests to Kannapolis to experience a number of activities and locations, and the day will include dinner at the Swanee Theater.