Palmetto Theater

109 Lee Avenue, Hampton, SC


Palmetto Theatre, Left Oblique

South Carolina Department of Archives and History

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The Palmetto Theatre, built in 1946, is significant as an intact example of a small-town, southern, post-war movie theater whose Art Deco-influenced Art Moderne architecture reflects the social, economic, and aesthetic pressures of the period, as well as the immediate post-war transition between these two related architectural styles. Its continued use as a movie theater and live performance space to the present day, and the high degree of architectural integrity it retains, make the Palmetto Theatre highly significant at the local level. The Palmetto Theatre was the brainchild of owners T. G. “Mutt” Stanley, a one-time mayor pro tem of Hampton, and Dr. James A. Hayne, Jr., a local physician. Design and construction of the building is attributed to Clarence L. Freeman of nearby Varnville. Based in part on the Carolina Theatre in Allendale, South Carolina, the design of the Palmetto features a prominent, ornate, projecting marquee and upper central pylon with highly stylized neon lettering and geometric patterns set against inset black pigmented structural glass panels. Built at a cost of $45,000, the theater was designed to seat 450 people, including balcony seats, and included upholstered, cushioned chairs with a red, white, and blue color scheme for the interior. Original projection equipment included RCA-Brenkert 35mm projectors with high intensity arc lamps. A soda shop located in an adjacent building, later known as the “Theatre Soda Shop,” offered “complete fountain service, sandwiches, and soups,” whether for “breakfast, dinner, or supper.” The Palmetto Theatre remains as one of only a small handful of Art Moderne theaters in the state of South Carolina. Listed in the National Register October 9, 2012. - SCDAH

Update Log 

  • September 16, 2014: Added by Michael Miller