Hampton’s Art Deco-Influenced Palmetto Theater

palmetto theater hampton sc
History is preserved at the Palmetto Theater. Image found on Wikimedia.

A drive down Hampton’s Lee Avenue brings you to the sight of an architectural treasure. The Palmetto Theater has proudly stool on this spot since 1946. This post-war building was once a social center in the Hampton community. The front features a prominent, ornate marquee with stylized neon lettering and geometric patterns. The theater was designed with a stage which was used for live performances. At full capacity, the theater can seat 450 on the main floor and balcony.

palmetto theater hampton sc
Original neon lights bring the historic theater to life. Photo from SC Dept of Archives and History.

The Palmetto Theater is significant as an example of small-town, southern, 1940s movie theater. The Art Deco- influenced Art Moderne architectural style reflects the social and economic pressures of the post-war period. According to Designing Buildings Wiki, art moderne architecture, “… is an architectural style that developed out of 1930s Art Deco. It was seen as a response to the Great Depression, designing buildings to be more streamlined and austere as opposed to the ambitious, opulent forms of Art Deco. Art Moderne buildings were usually white, and built with stucco, cement and glass.”

palmetto theater hampton sc
This close-up of the marquee shows what the neon tubes look like during the day. Photo by Amy.arch.

According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation application, the Palmetto Theater was, “Built in 1946 by Clarence L. Freeman for its owners T. G. “Mutt” Stanley and Dr. James A. Hayne, Jr., the Palmetto Theatre is significant under Criterion C for its post-war Art Moderne architecture, which reflected the limited availability of construction materials following the war and the influence of regional theater construction. It remains as one of only a small handful of Art Moderne theaters in the state of South Carolina. The theater was restored in 1992 and retains a high degree of architectural integrity. The Palmetto Theatre was the brainchild of T. G. “Mutt” Stanley, a one-time mayor pro tem of Hampton, and Dr. James A. Hayne, Jr., a local physician. Built in a style heavily influenced by the flourishes of the Art Deco Movement that had given birth to so many movie palaces in the larger cities of the south during the 1930s, but technically an example of Art Moderne architecture because of its age and certain architectural elements, the Palmetto might have been considered passé to more cosmopolitan observers, but its design was greeted by the residents of Hampton as “handsome in every detail of its structure and design.”

palmetto theater hampton sc
The Carolina Theater of Allendale (image by Tom Taylor) was the inspiration for the Palmetto Theater (image by Roadarch.com).

The design of the Palmetto Theater was inspired by the Carolina Theater in Allendale. It was built for the bargain price of $45,000. Inside, the downstairs had upholstered seats and a red, white and blue color scheme. The projector was an RCA Brenkert 35mm. It took a full year to construct the theater due to war time construction issues and material delays. The building was constructed of concrete brick and stucco as a result.  According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation application, “Prior to deciding on a design, Stanley and Hayne toured several existing movie theaters and ultimately crafted a look that bears a striking resemblance to the Art Deco-style Carolina Theatre (ca. 1936) in nearby Allendale, South Carolina, including its rectangular mirrored glass brackets around the upper façade and its stunted central pylon (with chevron accents at the Carolina rather than the neon design found at the Palmetto). Design and construction of the building is attributed to Clarence L. Freeman of nearby Varnville.”

palmetto theater hampton sc
The marquee and central pylon have been preserved beautifully. Image by Webrarian.

The front of the theater boasts an ornate pattern made with black glass panels, probably from Carrara glass or Vitrolite. The concrete block wall is covered in stucco. The sides and back have exposed concrete block walls.

palmetto theater hampton sc
Thomas T Faucette captured this image in the 1950s. The Palmetto is seen on the far left.

The Palmetto Theater has been well- preserved and lovingly taken care of. The building was restored in 1992, with modifications and secondary additions, but retains an unusual degree of original architectural integrity.  It is one of the few remaining Art Moderne theaters left in the state. In the above image from 1950, you can see the theater and the traffic of Lee Avenue.

palmetto theater hampton sc
Night-time omage of the Palmetto Theater by Carolina Historical Consulting.

While the Palmetto Theater is a sight to behold during the day, the historic building comes to life at night. The original neon pink and green lights are stunning.

palmetto theater hampton sc
Close-up photo by Amy.arch.

The prominent steel marquee projects over the central entrance with flat sides and a bowed front. The center of the marquee is adorned with a medallioned “P” which is covered in neon at night. Pink and green neon cover various Art Deco inspired chevrons, zig zags, and other geometric patterns. Four rectangular designs in black glass tiles rise toward the center pylon draws your eyes up to a neon adornment that spells out “Palmetto”. More black glass tiles outline the front facade.

palmetto theater hampton sc
The Art Deco influence is highlighted at night by the use of neon. Image from SC Dept of Archives and History.

Aluminum poster windows flank the marque and entrance. The entry leads to two sets of double wooden doors with huge plate glass windows. The ticket window is to the left of the doors.

palmetto theater hampton sc
The second story fire escape and first floor side entrance have been bricked up, but their footprints are still there. Photo by SC Dept of Archives and History.

The left elevation still holds a reminder of the separate first floor entrance and balcony fire escape. Before integration African American patrons used the side entrance and an interior ticket booth to view the movie from the balcony.  The separate entrance and fire escape have been removed, but their components survive to highlight the architectural evidence of segregation that happened throughout the south.

palmetto theater hampton sc
Stage view and back view of the Palmetto Theater. Images bu SC Dept of Archives and History.

The interior theater walls are made of acoustical tiles and still hold the original 6 Art-Deco light sconces. These light fixtures resemble candles sitting on semicircular bases. The unadorned balcony projects slightly over the orchestra. The majority of the balcony area is used for production purposes today. The original projection booth is housed in the back center of the balcony area.

palmetto theater hampton sc
Image from Palmetto Theater Facebook page.

The 1946 arrival of the Palmetto Theater into the social scene changed life in Hampton. The August 12 opening night festivities included an address by Senator George Warren. 550 patrons packed the theater, many in seats added for the special occasion. Movie titles at the Palmetto changed often and included newsreels and cartoons. It also parked a Blue Law controversy. South Carolina Blue Laws prohibited Sunday exhibitions. The operators of the Palmetto challenged this law and found themselves jailed for opening the doors on Sunday, September 10, 1950. Local clergymen expressed outrage. They gathered more than 800 signatures on a petition and presented it to the county. The men were arrested, but the movie continued uninterrupted. Hampton mayor Jim Holland bailed them out twenty minutes later. The theater owners went directly to the press to state their case. They claimed the Blue Laws were ridiculously out of date. Locals wrote the newspaper echoing these feelings. The theater continued to show Sunday movies. This challenge resulted in a social revolution in the county and paved the way for Blue Laws to be changed.

palmetto theater hampton sc
The original ticket booth is still in use today. Image by SC Dept of Archives and History.

The invention of the television in the 1950s, then home video and cable television in the 1980s brought an end to screenings at the Palmetto, and other small movie theaters across the country. Theater doors were closed in 1985. The building sat unused until 1992, when the Hampton County Arts Council purchased it. After extensive renovations, the theater reopened the following year. Dressing rooms and an outdoor courtyard were added. The theater is now used for performing arts productions. The theater is once again the center of community entertainment in Hampton.

See what our visitors love about the
SOUTH CAROLINA LOWCOUNTRY

Use the #hashtag #sclowcountry to get your image featured!

The Lowcountry & Resort Islands Region of South Carolina includes the four, southern-most counties in the state, Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, and Colleton, which are bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and on the west by the Savannah River and the state of Georgia.

simplysoutherncottage keeps us in awe with each her projects. This bed swing refresh is one of our favorites!
⠀⠀
⠀
📸: simplysoutherncottage⠀
.⠀
.⠀
.⠀
.⠀
.⠀
⠀
⠀
#bedswing #prettyinpink #backporchliving #backporch #porchdecor #cottagestyle #bhgprojectjoy #bhghome #slhomes #southernstyle #bohostyle #bohodecor #bohochic #lowcountryliving #summervillesc #realestate #summervillerealestate #visitsummerville #sclowcountry #explorechs #mysouthernliving #charlestonrealtor #charlestonsc #summervillerealtor #72soldsc #jimbrantleyrealtor ⠀
⠀
Beautiful South Carolina Lowcountry
•
Thanks for the tag 📸exodusfoto
•
#southcarolina #southcarolinacoast #lowcountry #lowcountryliving #sclowcountry #lifeonthecoast #coastliving #coastalsouthcarolina #saltyair #saltlife #wildlife #wildlifephotography #spanishmoss #sunrisesunset
#southcarolinaliving #southcarolina #edistobeach #edistosc #southcarolinanature #bestofthepalmettostate #onlyinsouthcarolina #treesofinstagram #treeporn #lowcountry #lowcountryliving #sclowcountry #southcarolinabeaches #charleston #charlestonsc #ig_naturelovers #ig_southcarolina #viewsofthesouth #charlestonlife
The shore gently recedes beneath the stunning Pawleys Island Pier. The unique island town, located about 25 miles south of Myrtle Beach and 70 miles north of Charleston, exudes laid-back, beachy vibes. Locals have definitely adopted an island state of mind and encourage visitors to as well. When you go, make sure to relax on the beach, explore the famous sand dunes, or fish in one of the many adjacent creeks.⏰ Best time of the day to visit: We guarantee that you’re going to want to spend a whole day here. We recommend getting to the beach at around 10am.🗓️ Best time of the year: Pawleys Island has the best weather during the spring and early summer months.🏖️ Things to do while there: Pawleys Island Nature Park, Pawleys Island Chapel, Hopsewee Plantation.🐠 Things to visit in the area: Brookgreen Gardens (brookgreen_gardens), take a walking ghost tour, Myrtle Beach (mymyrtlebeach), Harborwalk Marina, South Carolina Maritime Museum (southcarolinamaritimemuseum).🏨 Where to stay: The Oceanfront Litchfield Inn (oceanfrontlitchfieldinn), Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort (litchfieldbeachandgolf), Sea View Inn (seaviewinn), 620 Prince (620prince).Photo by qcphotographer
South Carolina Lowcountry
•
📸sarah_snydacker
•
#southcarolina #southcarolinacoast #lowcountry #lowcountryliving #sclowcountry #lifeonthecoast #coastliving #coastalsouthcarolina #saltyair #saltlife #wildlife #wildlifephotography #sunrisesunset #charleston
Headed down the road....Edisto Island.  #edisto #sclowcountry #trees #endofday  #beauty #islandsofsc
Spanish moss drapes the live oak trees that are ubiquitous to the Edisto Island area. Did you know that Edisto gets its name from the native Edistow people? The Edistow Native Americans were a sub tribe of the Cusabo indians, a group of Native Americans who lived along the Atlantic coast in South Carolina.⏰ Best time of the day to visit: Stop by mid-morning. That way you can explore the island, grab lunch, and stay for the amazing sunset if you choose.🏖️ Things to do while there: Edisto Environmental Learning Center, Boneyard Beach, Scott Creek Inlet, Big Bay Creek, SeaCow Eatery.☀️ Things to visit in the area: Jungle Road Park, Bay Creek Park, Otter Islands, Spanish Mount Point.📆 Best time of the year to visit: For warmer weather come anywhere from March-August.🏨 Where to stay: Fripp Island Golf & Beach Resort (frippislandrsrt), Seabrook Island Club (seabrook_sc), The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort (kiawahresort), Charleston Kiawah Island/Andell Inn (andellinn).Photo by qcphotographer
Discover at your own leisure at the coastaldiscoverymuseum 🌳  From century-old buildings with storied pasts, to wooden boardwalks that stretch into the Jarvis Creek salt marsh, there's always something to explore!
Reposted from coastaldiscoverymuseum Hilton Head Island has the second highest tidal range on the East Coast, second only to Canada’s Bay of Fundy. The average tidal range here is 7-9 feet between high and low tides.The Salt Marsh is one of our area’s most prominent features, not to mention an essential resource. Most coastal creatures depend partially or even fully on the Salt Marsh for survival as it serves as a nursery, as well as a water filter vital for the functioning of the entire coastal ecosystem.Explore the Lowcountry up close with a visit to the Coastal Discovery Museum and head out into the marsh via the Osprey Outlook floating dock on a self-guided tour or register for the weekly Salt Marsh Discovery program to learn from an expert how and why this particular environment is so important. (843) 689-6767 ext. 223 or coastaldiscovery.org.
.
.
.
.
.
#coastaldiscoverymuseum #honeyhorn #hiltonheadisland #saltmarshsaturday #hightide #lowtide #saltmarsh #ospreyoutlook #boardwalk #floatingdock #ecosystem #exploremore #familyfun #familyadventures #communitymuseum #smithsonianaffiliate #sclowcountry #lowcountrylife #visithiltonhead #discoversc
A visitor takes a leisurely stroke under a canopy of live oaks draped with Spanish moss in the Palmetto Bluff (palmettobluff) neighborhood of Bluffton, South Carolina. Palmetto Bluff is a picturesque community that sits in the heart of Lowcountry. Nestled along the May River, it’s abundant with beautiful walking trails, historic sites, and stunning views.⏰ Best time of the day to visit: There is no wrong time to visit Palmetto Bluff. However, we highly recommend sticking around for one of their spectacular sunsets.🛶 Things to do while there: Stop by Cole’s for some regionally inspired Southern fare, paddle board, kayak, or canoe along the May River, go saltwater fishing, take a tour at Bluffton Jack's Old Town Tours.🌊 Things to visit in the area: Palmetto Bluff Conservancy, Old Town Bluffton, Bluffton Oyster Factory Park, May River Sandbar, Heyward House Museum and Welcome Center (heywardhouse).📆 Best time of the year to visit: For the best weather, we recommend visiting between March and May or from September to November.🏨 Where to stay: The Montage Palmetto Bluff Resort (montagepalmettobluff) is the only resort in Palmetto Bluff. However, there are plenty of places to stay in the surrounding areas including: Old Town Bluffton Inn (oldtownblufftoninn), The Inn & Club at Harbour Town (theinnandclubatharbourtown), Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island (sonestahhi).Photo by jpgriceoz
South Carolina lowcountry
•
📸jonpuckett
•
#southcarolina #southcarolinacoast #lowcountry #lowcountryliving #sclowcountry #lifeonthecoast #coastliving #coastalsouthcarolina #saltyair #saltlife #wildlife #wildlifephotography #spanishmoss #sunrisesunset #charleston
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
•
Thanks for the tag 📸trbtbone
•
#magnoliaplantation #southcarolina #southernliving #southernview #southernlife #sclowcountry #scenicviews #charlestonlife #charlestonliving #charlestonsc #coastalsouthcarolina #coastaliving #lifeonthecoast #lifeincharleston #spanishmoss #explorethecoast #exploretheoutdoors #godscreation #getoutside
The seed has been planted…going to be a long couple of weeks….#scducks #ducks #duckhunting #moistsoil #moistsoilmanagement #redriderbbgun #sclowcountry #savannah #beaufort #charlestonsc #goldenisles #ducksunlimited
It’s my last week in the Lowcountry. I will be incredibly happy to be back home, but I will sure miss these views. ☀️🌴[Image Description: a photo of a sun setting over the Lowcountry wetlands. The cloud in the sky are reflected on the water below.]
I'm wringing this chamois for all its worth. The diversity of subjects at this place is endless.#ilfordfp4 #lowcountryphotographer #southernconversations #sclowcountry #lowcountryscenes #saltmarsh #bnwmood #mediumformatfilm #silvervisionfilm
Need a project this weekend? Add a splash of color and touch of gardening to your porch decor. Don’t have a green thumb? Not to worry.⠀
⠀
Visit southernlivingplantcollection for great tips, inspiration, and even purchase your plants on-line!⠀
⠀
⠀
📸  southernlivingmag ⠀
.⠀
.⠀
.⠀
.⠀
⠀
#homedecor #curbappeal #frontdoor #garden #southernliving #slhomes #bloom #welocome #updateyourlook #realtor #realestate #porchlife #lowcountryliving #charleston #charlestonsc #southcarolina #discoversc #sclowcountry #explorecharleston #summervillesc #lovewhereyoulive #jimbrantleyrealtor
Riding into the weekend like...Isn't this live oak tree tunnel beautiful? Live oak, draped in Spanish moss, is emblematic of South Carolina and many of the Southern states. We love these iconic trees, not only for their beauty, but their history as well. The average lifespan of a live oak is 300 years!Photo by qcphotographer
The tickets for our Decoration Day Gullah Campfire Supper with Stories and Songs are available now through our website, link in bio.We are Hipcamp hosts.  You can attend the event and stay over, extra spaces will be made available.  Contact us for more information.  Our Hipcamp listing name is Friendly Fowl Farm.This event will celebrate the United States Colored Troops in the Beaufort area and the establishment of the Grand Army Union Post and the Hall, it’s members and their mission.The guest speaker for this year is Rev. Dr. Elijah Washington, the current Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic whose historic hall is located at 706 Newcastle Street, Beaufort.Built in 1896, this meeting hall for the post is believed to be the only surviving building in South Carolina associated with the Grand Army of the Republic. The post hosted annual Decoration Day services at Beaufort National Cemetery and the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War continue that tradition. It is included in the Beaufort Historic District.
If you have period clothing please join your hosts amjones42 Tony and orbgtennis Belinda and dress the part.  Re-enactors are welcome.#decorationday #memorialday #unitedstatescoloredtroops #ushistory #history #travelandleisure #farmtotable #camping #unionarmy #uscoloredinfantry #historymakers #travelandlearn #gullah #gullahgeechee #blackhistory #grandarmyoftherepublic #grandarmyoftherepublic #robertsmalls #civilwarhistory #civilwarreenactment #sclowcountry #discoversc #campinglife #explore #getoutside #hipcamp #historicbeaufort
The magic of the season has begun in our SC Lowcountry. Come see!#thatsmylowcountry #naturallyamazing #sclowcountry #beaufortcountysc #colletoncountysc #hamptoncountysc #jaspercountysc #tistheseason #holidayseason
“Beaufort River Sunset”
Digital Drawing in Adobe Illustrator
20 x 20”
2021#PopArtists #PopArtLover #PopArts #AcrylicPainter #PopArtGallery #PaintingOnCanvas #PopArtGallery #PaintingADay #PaintersOfIG #PainterArtist #AcrylicPaintingArt #PaintersLife #FineArtGallery #FineArtZone #FineArtwork #FineArtLandscape #FineArtCollector #FineArtPaintings #LandscapePaintings #LandscapePaintingNow #LandscapeArtist #LandscapeArtwork #FineArtLandscape #beaufortsc #sclowcountry #lowcountryliving #beaufortriver #beaufortsouthcarolina

The South Carolina Lowcountry Guidebook is filled with many things to see and do in the beautiful Lowcountry of South Carolina. Please fill out the information and we will send you a FREE GUIDE BOOK.


    Stay Up To Date

    Sign up for our newsletter!