MENU

      Now showing: A piece of Lowcountry history

      CHARLESTON,S.C.(WCIV)-- Dependingon your age, perhaps you spent some time watching a movie in its cozy art-decotheater or if you are a bit younger you've seen it in a popular movie set inthe Lowcountry.

      Charleston's American theaterhas been delighting movie goers and movie fans for over 70 years.

      Sincethe 1940's,the lights of the marquee above the Lowcountry landmark have been brighteningthe shops, stores and restaurants of King Street.

      Many of the starsof Hollywood'sgolden age still dawn the hallways of the historic movie house in the form oforiginal Life Magazine covers.

      Bogart, Dean, Taylor and other Hollywoodroyalty great you as you glide through the theater.

      The American openedin 1942 and was named in honor of U.S service men and women proudly fightingoverseas in World War II.

      After a successfulrun as downtown's premiere theater, the American fell on hard times, and wastaken over in 1997 by Patrick properties.

      "We operated it asa movie theater for six years, and then closed it down for renovations andturned it into the private event venue that it is today," Patrick PropertiesC.O.O Jennifer Goldman said.

      Restoring the Americanto its natural luster was a labor of love.{}Renovations took more than a year.

      Local Artists and painterswere called in to re-create and recapture the American's art-deco accents andpaneling.

      "Everything wastaken back to the original was restored to its original conditions as best wecould; paint colors, dcor everything we saved as much as we could," Goldmansaid.

      Renovations to theinterior quickly spread outside the American, which, according to Goldmanhelped galvanize the re-vitalization of upper King Street.

      Amovement Goldman and her team take great pride in.{}

      "Atthe time was a very transitioning neighborhood," Goldman said. "So we werelooking at whether or not to make it a residential property or turn it intocondos or do something commercially with it."

      Butwhen it came time to making a decision for the brass at Patrick Properties itall boiled down to a simple decision.

      "You can make itresidential and help a few families or you can do something commercial and helpengage a community," She said. {}

      And engage acommunity they did.

      The now flourishingtheater plays host to private parties, weddings, engagement parties andcorporate events.

      It's cinema even doublesas a classroom for the Charleston School of Law.

      While it showedhundreds if not thousands of movies during its long career. The American Theaterbecame a piece of cinematic history itself with 2004's smash film The Notebookwhich prominently featured the American's Marquee.

      Theclassic love story set in the Lowcountry has adopted a feverish following,which has translated into a steady business.

      "What's fun to seenow that it is an event space is that we had a number of brides that want tohave a notebook or movie themed wedding and we are the natural spot for that,"Goldman said.

      The nearlyflorescent marquee has taken on a life of its own.

      "Weget everything from congratulations messages to awareness messages about eventsgoing on around town," Goldman said. {}"Thehappy birthdays and the congratulations, the marriage proposals are the mostfun."

      While the curtainmay have fallen on its days as a movie house, the legacy of this theater has noend.

      The building alsohouses a Charleston police substation and is oneof the few in downtown Charlestonwith a basement.

      component-story-more_media_horiz-v1-01
      FOLLOW US ON TWITTER